With the help of many community volunteers who staffed 15 booths, high school students from Urbana participated in a Real Money, Real World simulation. Students were assigned a career, a monthly salary, and a specific number of children. Each student visited various booths making spending choices based on their family situation hoping they would have enough money to make ends meet at the end of the month.
The program includes classroom lesson(s) to prepare students to assume the role of a 27-year-old adult who is the primary income provider for a family. They receive an occupation, monthly salary, and the number of children that are raising. Students learned to subtract savings, taxes, and other deductions from their monthly income. The amount of money left over is what they spent during the simulation activity. Students spent their money at booths staffed by community volunteers on items typically found in a monthly budget including housing, utilities, groceries, insurance, childcare, and transportation. Throughout the activity, the students kept track of their finances and attempted to complete the simulation with a positive balance.
This program is a product of The Ohio State University and was organized for the community by Extension Program Assistant Kiley Horn in collaboration with DECA students Laken Ridgwell, Justin Rutan, and Grace Ullom and their advisor, Thomas Russell.
While there were many surprises for the participants, childcare costs were one with the biggest financial impact. Some students were shocked to see that monthly childcare cost could potentially be over half of their monthly net income. Scenarios like this directed students to the Financial Advice booth who assisted in getting the student on the right track after they realized that “giving the children back” was not a viable option.
Volunteers noted that the students were never struggling to understand the task, but that they were struggling with the difficult choices they had to make based on their budget available.
A very special thank you to our community partnerships that make programs like this possible for our youth: Jim Arter, Audra Bean, Joe Buckalew, Tim Cassady, Allison Cox, Eugene Fields, Sabrena Haynes, Robin Henry, Mandy Hildebrand, Marissa Horn, Nancy Martin, Kim Snyder, Elaina Thomas and Staci Wisma; along with Extension staff: Kellie Lemley, Jenni Nott, Melinda Ryan, and Kathy Tutt.
For more information about the Real Money Real World program, please contact Kiley Horn at the Champaign County Extension Office at [email protected] or 937-772-6013.
Program Assistant, 4-H Youth Development
Champaign County Extension Office