By Matt de Simone
Last week, eighth grade students at Central Academy Middle School participated in the 4-H Reality Store– made up of 20 volunteers from the area who helped students with the “reality” of planning and budgeting their lives in the future.
4-H Extension Agent Tyler Painter works with the volunteers to provide students with a monthly salary, marriage status, and household size. Then, the students visit different stations to make accurate world decisions about taxes, savings, housing, clothing, and extracurricular activities.
A “Crystal Ball” station provided students with unexpected expenses or income based on real-world situations. Students provided volunteers with insight and questions about their specific conditions.
“You can’t pull this off without volunteer help,” Painter stated in an interview. “We end up with representatives from a lot of local organizations who help out a great deal.”
Over a dozen expenses featured by local representatives of organizations and volunteers included: personal care, medical/dental planning, banking, supplemental income, entertainment, student loans, insurance, housing, grocery budgeting, child care expenses, communications, and transportation.
After completing the rounds at the Reality Store, students who ended up with money left over from their budgeting got to ring a bell notifying their peers that they ended up saving money.