Next Dollar Up Strategy: Resources and Freebie

As some of you may know I recently have been posting products using the Next Dollar Up Strategy.  I have many students I work with who would benefit from learning to use money but are not as proficient at being able to make change.  I thought the Next Dollar strategy was pretty well known, until I ran across this blog post (check out her post for some nice worksheets using the Next Dollar strategy).  So I thought I would talk a little about it here and describe the reason for the products I've been making--and give you a freebie to try with your students.

What is the Next Dollar Strategy?
It's very simple.  You look at a price (say $1.50) and you give one more dollar than the number of dollars in the price (you give $2).  So, if you want to buy something that has a price for 4.50, you give $5 and get back the change.  Easy Peasy.

Why is it important?
The Next Dollar strategy allows students who may not be able to make change to make purchases by giving the number of dollars in the price and then one more (to cover the change).  They then get change, but how many of us really count the change we get when we make a purchase? Really?  In addition this strategy allows these students to know what they can afford to buy.  For instance, if I want to buy a cupcake and it costs $2.50 and I only have $2 I don't have enough money.  For a long time people have advocated that individuals should be able to make a purchase merely by exchanging money.  I agree with that but only to a point--you have to know if you have enough money in order to avoid running into a problem at the cashier stand.  So, learning the strategy can increase independence and empower individuals because they are able to use money and make their own purchases.

How do we teach it?
It can be taught in a variety of ways.  You can have students circle the number of dollars and then count out that number of bills and then add one more.  Here is a nice slideshow that walks them through that stage.  You can also practice 1-1 with the students by showing them a price and having them count out bills to purchase something.  I like to do this with a reinforcer store so they get to "buy" something they like.  There are some written procedures for teaching the skill here and here.  There are also some good examples of money IEP goals you can use here.  Breezy Special Ed also has a great post with pictures of using this strategy for work systems.

Tools for Teaching:
To help some teachers I work with who have students who need to learn this strategy, I created some Next Dollar Up Task Cards.  In the first set, students circle the price of something they can buy given the number of dollars (including up to combinations for $5 and $1 bills to a total of $9).  This would be akin to looking at a sale flyer and or price tag in a store and determining if you have enough money in your pocket to afford it.  There are 20 task cards that just require answers for what can I buy and 20 more that require higher thinking to choose the most expensive thing I can buy.  I did this because in the first set, the answer will automatically be the lowest number on the card.  If your students are savvy enough to pick up on that, then the second set will work better for them.  If not, then the first set works and the second might be a challenge.  The cards are differentiated for lower amounts to higher amounts so you can use just the cards that are appropriate for the students.

I have also created How Many Dollars? Task Cards that require the student determine how many dollars are needed to make a purchase.  Because so many money activities are geared for elementary students, I purposely chose grocery store and restaurant items as the items they are buying to be geared for all ages, but particularly middle and high school students.  In this set there are 40 task cards that have prices already written in and 40 of the same task cards but with the prices left blank, for a total of 80 task cards.  Have a student who memorizes the answers and want to keep him or her guessing?  The second set of 40 will allow you to change it up.
Both of these products give you materials you can use to teach the Next Dollar skill as well as practice the skill to maintain it.   I have written more about how task cards can be used in the classroom, but you can use them in groups and they are great for work systems.  Both of these sets are designed to be laminated so the students write the answers on them directly with dry erase markers.  In the first they circle the price; in the second, they circle the number of dollars.

And finally, I have just started a new product of worksheets using the Next Dollar Up method.  I will also be bundling all the Money Activities into one larger bundle in the next few days.  In the meantime, here's a sample of the worksheets for you to play with.  There are two worksheets.  Sweet Shoppe has prices up to $5 and Beach Shoppe has prices to $10.  Students can use the number line of the dollars at the top to determine how many dollars are needed. A completed example of The Beach Shoppe is below with a variety of strategies used to complete it.  I should have the full version up along with the bundled version of money task cards and worksheets sometime tomorrow.  The full version of 10 Next Dollar Worksheets are now available in my store.  Also, I am going to bundle all the money task cards and the worksheets together and that will be posted sometime on Monday...before the big sale.  If you have purchased 3 of the 4 existing products, email me and I'll send you free worksheets.  You can check out the individual ones at my store at  Download the free worksheets by clicking here.

Have you used the Next Dollar Up Strategy?  Have resources to share?  Please share them in the comments.  

And hop on over to Fabulicious Freebies on the First, TBA's Freebie Friday, and Classroom Freebies Manic Monday to check out lots of other great free lessons and resources!
Freebie Fridays
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I meant to say...Thanks for sharing! I love these materials. They will be helpful to a couple of my students, too!
      Owl Things First

    2. So glad they were useful! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!! Love your blog!


  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Thanks for sharing, I had never heard of the Next Dollar Strategy.

    Love to Learn

    1. So glad you found it--it's so simple and yet so useful!

  4. Your worksheets were exactly what I needed to get the ball rolling - thanks so much!!

    1. I am so glad! Thanks for letting me know!

  5. Thanks for the mention! I was just browsing pinterest and came across this post and was excited to see you linked to my post! So thanks :)

    Brie - Breezy Special Ed

  6. If you are using iPad or iPhone our Next Dollar UP app is available on the iTunes appstore.

    Limited Cue LLC

    1. Thanks Wade. I have been trying to get around to trying that out to write a review; just haven't had the time!

  7. PKCL Soft also has a good Dollar UP app that has several currencies, and I know they would be happy to provide you a code for review. You can read about how the app was developed here: and a review by Angela from The Appy Ladies (the app has been updated since her review)

    Your materials are fantastic. I'll be sharing this site with friends.


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