By: Chris LaFay on March 1, 2016
I have been blessed in my entrepreneurial ventures. I have had the opportunity to meet and do business with a plethora of people from many walks of life. Because of that, both myself and Gabe wanted to be a blessing to others. We decided to spend the day at the Junior Achievement Discovery Center to individually mentor a handful of 8th graders from Crews Middle School. During our day we helped these students understand what it’s like to live life as an adult and how to manage your money wisely.
The goal for the day: helping each kid leave with a newfound knowledge of the world they will be entering in a few short years. Many students have never had the opportunity to dive into the real world and make “adult” decisions – such as how to create a monthly budget or buy health insurance. Even as middle schoolers, these are valuable skills to obtain.
In order to do this, we walked them through who they were going to be for the day. They did not have any control over what persona the simulation gave them upon signing in. When they logged into their tablets, the simulation created a random persona for that particular student. Some were doctors, making a lot of money, while some were a single parent with two kids just scraping to get by. Their credit scores, education levels and debt levels were all randomized and the students had to take these various factors into account while making decisions on how to budget and spend their one month’s paycheck.
The students had to decide how to spend their money in 25 different areas. They had to choose either gourmet food purchased at an organic grocery store or cheap store-brand food for pennies on the dollar. When they shopped for their clothes, they had to decide whether they were going to purchase designer label jeans or clothes from the clearance rack. Every budgeted item had options to choose from, ranging from dirt cheap to very expensive, and they went through each line item (sometimes more than once if they went over budget) and figured out exactly how they could make ends meet for their “one month” of real life.
The hope is that no matter which persona the student was given that he or she will come out understanding that life isn’t all about the money you make – it’s about the decisions you make and how you use the resources you have been given to provide for your family. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Discovery Center and aim to return and give even more students a “sneak peek” into adult life.