As adults, each of us works hard to make our monthly income cover the necessities so we will have some left over at the end of the month for retirement savings and long-term goals. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have had a “trial run” at adult spending decisions while we were still young and able to choose our future career?
That’s the idea behind Real Money. Real World., a program developed by Ohio State University Extension and coordinated locally by the Lynchburg-Clay School District and OSU Extension, Highland County. This program allows middle school and high school students to make life choices and get a taste of the real world.
On May 6, students from Lynchburg-Clay had an opportunity to experience first-hand how expenses for necessities, as well as luxuries, must be balanced with the reality of monthly income. Students were given an occupation, monthly income, credit card debt, and even a child or two. Real Money. Real World. helped youth realize that their career choice, the education required for a career, and potential lifestyle are related.
Real Money, Real World, is a program offered through OSU Extension. It is an active, hand-on experience that gives young people the opportunity to make lifestyle and budget choices similar to those they will make as adults. They study how occupations will affect their income, learn about payroll deductions by their employers, how to use a savings and checking account, and how to make life choices.
The students assume the role of a 27-year-old adult who is married to Chris. They receive an occupation, monthly salary, and the number of children (if any) in their family. At the end of the classroom lessons the students complete a real-life simulation. During the simulation students interacted with local businesses where they would spend their salaries on “real life” budget items including housing, utilities, groceries, insurance, childcare and transportation. Throughout this activity students keep track of their finances and attempt to complete the simulation with a positive balance. Students learn what they can afford and what they cannot afford on their income.
Some of the comments from the students were: “I didn’t realize it is all about the wants”; “ You run out of money fast”; “How difficult it is to have nice stuff”; “How much food and child care really cost.”
Local community representatives supporting the event included: First State Bank, Merchants National Bank, NCB, Hamilton Insurance, State Farm Insurance, Southern Ohio Bank, Highland District Hospital, 4-H volunteers and OSU Extension personnel from Fayette and Highland counties.
For more information, contact Kathy Bruynis at the Highland County Extension office at 937-393-1918 or email at [email protected]
Submitted by Kathy Bruynis, Extension area leader, Extension educator, 4-H youth development.