Real Money Equals Real Problems

East Freshmen Learn Real Money Equals Real Problems
Posted on 12/01/2021
This is the image for the news article titled East Freshmen Learn Real Money Equals Real ProblemsStudent and adult stand behind a sign that reads "Credit" and presents a range of payment optionsLakota East Freshman students had no choice but to succeed in the game of life last Monday. And while some had an easier path than others, they all walked away with a better understanding of the value of a dollar. 

“We want them to leave here knowing they can make it,” emphasized Heather Reister, an educator with the Family & Consumer Sciences division of Ohio State University Extension, which brings the “Real Money Real World” financial literacy program to about a dozen schools and organizations in Butler County each year. 

“The situation they are coming from or the experiences they’ve had don’t determine their future success. They can chart their own path,” Reister continued, emphasizing that the lesson always ties back to education. In other words, some sort of professional certification leads to some sort of earning power and potential, she says.

Each student is handed a different set of circumstances, including a job and corresponding salary that coincides with their current GPA. “This is just one way of keeping it real and drawing a connection between hard work and good results,” said Associate Principal Nicole Isaacs, who brought the program to East Freshman. Students are also handed a family - either single or married and with or without children - and go through a series of four classroom lessons prior to simulation day. 

From there, they visit 14 different stops around the gymnasium ranging from childcare, transportation, housing and food to insurance, entertainment, philanthropy and education. They even stop at a “Chance” booth, where most are dealt an unexpected life event that comes at a cost. 

At each stop, they learn the real market costs and must navigate the decision making process and repercussions of choosing the “thrifty, moderate or liberal” option. In some cases, they have no choice but to purchase at a certain threshold based on their job or family makeup. All along, they learn the impact and necessity of taxes, budgeting, retirement planning and even financial assistance, which is available to those who need it at any point along the way. 

“It felt really real and scary,” said East freshman Hannah Kohlhaas. “I learned there’s a lot of surprises and I didn’t realize how expensive food and insurance is either!” 

“It definitely gave me something to think about,” said East freshman Demestrius Stanley, who was most surprised by the cost of food. When presented with the food that made up the least expensive option, he realized he couldn’t feed his kids that and opted to upgrade. “It’s a lot of responsibility,” he concluded.

A different volunteer representing a range of industries and professions managed each stage of the decision making process. “If they manage their own finances, then they can volunteer,” Reister said. “It’s just a matter of working off their own life experiences.” 

“It’s a really interactive day that the kids seem to really enjoy and find engaging,” Isaacs said. “Some of the financial literacy concepts that they’ve heard at home or in class really come to life.”