This is a sample response for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3. In addition to the model answer there are highlighted words and phrases. Teal is for vocabulary relating to this topic, yellow is for generally useful words and phrases.
IELTS Speaking Part 2
You should say:
- when and where it was
- what it was
- why you decided to spend money on it
and say if you thought this money was well-spent.
When I was 25 I landed a new job with a big company. The offer was rather lucrative and I couldn’t resist, so I quit my previous position despite it being quite to my liking at the time. Anyway, my new salary was almost three times higher than the old one, so I decided to treat myself to a new car. Truth be told, I don’t know much about cars, I just wanted to have something reliable, comfortable as well as a bit flashy.
Since I didn’t really have the money yet, I took a car load. I had just enough money for the down-npayment and the monthly installments seemed reasonable at the time. I also had to splash out on a set of winter tyres and I spared no expense when it came to maintenance. Occasional repairs, weekly visits to the car wash and gas bills were eating into my savings. It wasn’t the worst bit though. The painful truth is that a car is a depreciating asset and unless it’s some sough-after model, it will likely lose half of its value within first two years. My financial literacy at the time was lacking so I had been oblivious to all of that.
Looking back, this had been a very bad decision because I sold the car three years later without having paid it off. Once the novelty wore off I didn’t enjoy it that much, I did have to pay for it though.
IELTS Speaking Part 3
Money and finances
In your opinion, what are some ways to manage one’s finances?
I was taught to keep track of my expenses, that is write when, how much and what you spent your money on. Then it becomes easy to categorise your spending. You no longer wonder where all your money went to, you know it and can control this process. For instance, you see that a third of your money goes to dining out each month and can adjust your spending habits accordingly. Actually, nowadays you don’t have to write anything down as we mostly live in cashless society and pay with our cards. Your banking app does the tracking for you, some even warn you of unnecessary spending.
Another approach is to set a monthly limit that you cannot break. This forces you to be more frugal with finances and buy only the most essential things, albeit this can vary based on your self-imposed limit. In any case, such practice can help you understand the areas of budget that can be further optimised.
Do you think it’s better to spend money carefully or to enjoy one’s money while you have it?
To properly address this question, you have to keep in mind how many people depend on the money and income you have. Do you have children to raise, clothe, educate? Can your parents still provide for themselves? If the answer to all of this is “no” then you might consider seizing the day money-wise. However, the joy of excessive spending never lasts and you have to spend more and more to feel those endorphins kicking in. Naturally most people can’t sustain a lifestyle like that and end up either disappointed, disillusioned or simply broke. So I’d say if you have money to throw around, give it to a better cause, like an orphanage or an animal shelter. The feeling of having done something right is more precious than vanity and fleeting sense of enjoying expensive possessions.
Some people believe that money can buy happiness. Do you agree? Why/Why not?
Happiness is a very hazy concept. Some say it is a state of mind, some confuse happiness with absence of worry and obligations. For many happiness is more or less equal with love. The latter can’t be bought, that is for sure, they even make songs about that. But being well-off certainly does take the pressure off, and for many of use it is more than enough to feel much comfortable, incidentally making us happier. But money is ultimately a means to an end rather that a solution to every single problem one can encounter. Therefore money can facilitate happiness, but it does not equal happiness. In fact, one can be happy penniless as long as they find their calling, find themselves surrounded by loved ones and enjoy respect of people they value. So while it can “buy” happiness, it doesn’t always have to.
Shopping today and tomorrow
Are shopping centers becoming more popular than small shops?
I don’t think that is the case. Modern consumers are very discerning and picky, some are unsatisfied with run of the mill items one can buy at the supermarket so they turn to smaller shops. Unlike retail chains, smaller independent shops can have unique offers, albeit at a higher markup. This does not discourage people as they are ready to pay extra to get something that is truly special and nobody else has. Another reason shopping centres might not be too popular with some is how crowded they can get, especially at the weekend. By contrast, smaller independent venues can be cozy and comforting, lending themselves nicely to relaxed shopping experience.
Do you think people should be encouraged to buy locally produced goods rather than imported ones? Why?
Supporting your local producer is never a bad decision. You buy a locally made thing and the profits as well as taxes get funneled back into local economy. This trickles down into a growing and welcoming trading community. But there’s more than just buying it for the sake of being neighbourly. Think about this for a second – the price of an item is formed by all the costs it took to produce, advertise and deliver it. The latter can be taken out of the equation if you buy a locally made thing, so it makes sense financially, all else being equal. Therefore there are two sound reasons to buy stuff that comes from where you live.
What influence do commercials have on people’s shopping habits?
It is a given that a commercial’s only purpose is to increase sales of the item it advertises. However, this can be achieved in several ways and some of them are more ethical and sustainable than the others. Some commercials aim to be informative – they break it down why you should go for this particular product or brand. This makes for a more educated consumer who purchases an item that suits his needs better. Other commercials, the usual kind, just focus on indenting their brand name in prospective buyer’s head so that they would subconsciously feel the need to buy that. The latter kind is unfortunately much more popular among advertisers. The results in consumers getting bombarded by brand names when they watch TV, listen to the radio or browse the Internet. They end up with brand names engraved in their minds without even understanding what the brand produces.