2. Long-Term Spending Decisions

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In this activity, you will use spreadsheets to organize and analyze data about a long-term spending decision, like buying a cell phone with a service contract.

If you prefer, you can research a different purchase that interests you, like fitness equipment, a musical instrument rental, a cable or internet provider, or a tablet with internet connection.

With decisions like these, there’s an overwhelming amount of information.

For example, there are many kinds of cell phones, all with different functions and different prices.

Then, you must choose a wireless carrier and data plan.

Companies charge different amounts for the services you use--not to mention the hidden costs: administrative fees, cancellation fees, upgrade fees, tethering fees, roaming fees…..


Spreadsheets help you organize all this information to get a full, clear picture of the actual costs involved.

For this activity, you will research and record data about cell phones and plans or another purchase with a long-term contract.

You’ll enter this data into a spreadsheet.

Then, you’ll use formulas to calculate what the product will cost you over the full contract term.

Formulas perform the same operations you would do by hand.

But calculating costs in spreadsheets has several benefits.

First, spreadsheets make it easy to change values. Your expenses might change each month.

If you were keeping track by hand, you would have to recalculate all the totals.

With a spreadsheet, your calculations automatically update when you change a value.

Second, you can easily copy the functions and formulas in your spreadsheet instead of performing the same mathematical operations over and over.

Finally, using a spreadsheet helps you prevent errors when performing calculations.

To get started, open a blank spreadsheet.

From a new tab or window, go to Google Drive.

Click New and open a new, blank spreadsheet.

Name it Product Comparisons.

Then, move on to the next video.

Now, it’s your turn: Open a new, blank spreadsheet.

Name it Product Comparisons.


  1. Go sheets.google.com.
  2. Open a blank spreadsheet.
  3. Name your spreadsheet "Product Comparisons."
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