On April 19, Charter Oak High School had an event in the gym called “Bite of Reality” that is dedicated to help seniors prepare themselves for the financial problems and situations that they are going to face after high school.
A story from rmjfoundation.org said that the event “is a hands-on app based simulation that appeals to teens while giving them a taste of real-world financial realities.” The Richard Myles Johnson Foundation is the state credit union foundation for California and Nevada. According to rmjfoundation.org, the organization “provides financial education resources for credit unions in California and Nevada.”
The assembly was only for seniors and was split up into two groups. Group A, seniors who have Katherine Archer and Robert Lattimore as their teacher, was excused from their second period class at 8:55 a.m. to head over to the gym. Group B, seniors who have Roger Lehigh and Richard Wiard, was excused at 9:25 a.m. to go to the multipurpose room.
After each group had their assemblies, they started the simulation. Each student was assigned a random job through the app that ranged from carpenter to scientist. Most students had a spouse as well as a child while some had a child without a spouse.
The simulation also added student loan payments, medical insurance copay and credit card debt. It then calculated the monthly income of the student and their spouse after mandatory monthly bills, such as the student loan payment and medical insurance copay, were paid.
The app gave the student the total net monthly income, and then the student had to go to all eight stations. The stations were child care, transportation, household needs, shopping, housing and utilities, groceries and dining, entertainment and clothing and personal care. The students could go to the stations in any order, adding to the realistic aspect of the simulation.
In each station at least one thing needed to be bought, which subtracted from the student’s total. At some stations, such as transportation or housing and utilities, the helpers tried to convince the students to buy the most expensive item there and gave reasons it would be the best option.
Once in a while, a sudden pop up would appear, stating that an emergency expense needed to be paid or that the student would receive extra money as a reward or bonus. Rmjfoundation.com calls it the “Fickle Finger of Fate,” and it gives “students unexpected ‘expenses’ or ‘windfalls’—just like in real life.”
After completing the stations and expenses, the students went to the credit union station where the helpers gave advice to the students about what to do if the student had some money left over or if they were in debt.
The simulation was a great experience for me because I was able to see where I would need to compromise financially to meet monthly obligations. Also, some aspects of the simulation helped me understand what I needed to work on in terms of spending and saving. Overall, “Bite of Reality” was a great experience for seniors to learn how to manage money and what expenses they might have in the future.