Students learn money management in a real world simulation
By Patricia Beech
Eighth-grade students at Manchester Junior High School recently stepped out of the classroom and into the real world recently when they participated in a Real Money Real World (RMRW) simulation designed to develop their money management skills.
During the simulation, each student assumed the role of a married, 27-year-old adult. They were assigned a career, a monthly salary, and a specific number of children. Community and 4-H volunteers staffing 14 booths advised students as they made financial decisions similar to those adults face on a daily basis. The booths represented actual community businesses where students spent their salaries on child care, housing, insurance, credit, transportation, utilities, communications, clothing, food, entertainment, charitable contributions, financial advice, and taxes.
“This program gives the kids a chance to step into the real adult world,” said Adams County Auditor David Gifford, who manned the tax booth.
The RMRW program was a joint effort between the Ohio State University Extension office and Manchester High School. The event was organized by extension officer Carolyn Belczyk and Susan McFarland, Technology teacher for seventh and eighth grades at Manchester.
While the students seemed to enjoy the hands-on experience, many were surprised at how difficult it was to make ends meet, and a few quickly found themselves in financial difficulty.
“I think the cost of food and insurance were the biggest surprises to them,” said McFarland. “Some students did go bankrupt and had to obtain a second job or federal assistance to survive.”
McFarland spent a week preparing students to participate in the financial literacy program by working through all the deductions that would come out of their paychecks. First State Bank representative Dee Fitzpatrick spoke to the students about bank accounts – savings and checking, and the difference between the two, and MLSD Treasurer Karen Ballengee explained employee deductions.
Approximately 60 students participated in the program. “The reason we do this with eighth-grade students is because they’re at the point when they’re making choices about what high school classes they’ll be taking – either college prep or pursuing a vocation at the CTC,” said Belczyk. “It’s a good time in their lives to have that first reality check.”
McFarland agreed, “It was a great life lesson for them.”