Posted Date: 04/18/2019
Freshmen discover how much they have to learn when they attend the financial literacy event that Communities in Schools sponsors each year at Chanute High School.
Realtor Angie Stanley is one of many volunteers from the community who pitch in to work the Future Now: Finance event because it’s a worthwhile and eye-opening experience.
“It’s just a great opportunity for the kids to experience some real life situations,” Stanley said. “Most kids have no idea of the expenses that adults incur. They’re all amazed – all of them. Water is not free, or utilities.”
Each student is assigned an adult scenario that tells them their job and income, family status, single, married, and whether they have children. Their task is to complete a budget, stopping at each booth in the school gymnasium, to find housing, insurance, purchase a vehicle, open a bank account, and make decisions about what to buy at the supermarket, give to charity, the kinds of entertainment they can’t live without, and especially how unexpected things in life affect daily life.
Typically the housing booth is where the students go first and where some of their perceptions are shaken. Some find out they can’t buy a house because they don’t make enough money or because their credit score is too low and a bank won’t give them a loan.
“Having a low credit score means … they can’t buy,” Stanley said. “They’re forced to rent which in the long term costs more. Some kids had to work together and become roommates because they couldn’t do it on their own. It’s a great lesson in adulting.”
This experience “helps them see how different decisions affect their life,” she added.
Some of the students are given a hypothetical child to care for, others are divorced and some find out at the insurance booth that a bad driving record has far reaching effects.
Students roll dice to determine their driving record. Depending on whether they have a clean record, a warning, several tickets or a DUI, affects the cost of their insurance. It also eats into their budget and the other places they’d like to spend their money, such as the transportation booth.
Dave Remboldt, a former CIS coordinator who now works at the FireEscape Coffeehouse, is another regular volunteer who “sells vehicles” to the CHS freshmen. Often he ends up teaching a lesson on over extension.
The students come to the booth, see all the choices from motorcycles to high-end fast-driving cars, and they want one. Then they look for housing, health care, childcare, and come back to sell their car and downsize to something more affordable.
This event is “a good thing for them. Southeast Kansas is a place where people work hard but money doesn’t flow like in the bigger cities,” Remboldt said. “Getting over extended in a role playing environment is better than reality.”
“I think this is a worthwhile event,” said Ryan Wheeler who was also “selling cars” today. “It’s good for them to think about the impact of their choices from the small things to the big things. This is a good use of their time.”
Kathy Jones and Claudia Christiansen both admitted they were at the event because they are on the advisory committee for Communities in Schools, but added they’d help with this program even if they weren’t.
“I’d be here because I just think it’s so important for these kids to see a little bit of reality,” Christiansen said.
“It’s a reality check,” Jones added. “They get a little bit of understanding of what life may throw their way.”
At their supermarket, the freshmen make some decisions that most have never thought about.
“Cost. They have no idea of the cost of food,” Christiansen said.
“Or eating out,” Jones added. “We ask, ‘Are you going to use recipes to cook or buy the heat and eat kinds of food?’”
As the students make their choices, the women tell them what they have to write in their budget line for food, and they find out it’s more expensive to eat out a lot than to cook at home.
High school CIS coordinator Sarah Stockebrand walks around the gym, answering questions and checking to see how everyone is doing.
“I’m so grateful for each and every community volunteer who helps,” she said. “Community volunteers are vital to the success of our Future Now: Finance program.”
Freshman Jacquolin Love stops and shares her budget sheet with Stockebrand.
Love said she was assigned a job in the military, something she’d never considered, but was surprised to learn there were some real benefits to being a member of the armed forces at some of the booths she visited.
“These opportunities at a young age, especially as a freshman, gives them things to think about as they finish high school and consider post-secondary training,” Jones said.
“It’s very eye opening. They learn a lot,” Stanley added.