Area Volunteers Helped BHS Sophomores Experience "Reality" in Budgeting Simulation

By Trina Runner on September 17, 2018 via

After years of piggy banks and grandparent gifts being the sole source of income, Bridgeport High School sophomores participated in a simulation that allowed them to have and “real” income and make their own decisions on how to spend their money.
Local volunteers gathered in the BHS gym on Monday, September 10, to facilitate “Reality Days,” an initiative sponsored by the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce. Sophomores were chosen to participate because many of them are getting their first car, paying insurance for the first time and starting to think about what it will be like to live on their own in another two years. They are also starting to have their first experience with working and managing their income.
Chamber members and representatives from area banks and educational agencies guided students through the budgeting simulation, which included decision making, the importance of savings, and adjusting a budget when the unexpected happens.  
Each student was given a card with a fictional occupation and family scenario.  With that information, they made their rounds to booths that represented actual decisions commonly made in budgeting. The salaries they were given were aligned with current statistics and they were directed to purchase a house, car, furniture, insurance, groceries, gas and utilities.
The first round of the simulation is played with a low-income occupation and no advanced education.  The second round shows the importance of post-secondary education and the correlation with higher salaries.
To make the simulation more realistic, volunteers use high-pressure sales techniques to try to influence their decisions and a “Green Reaper” roamed around passing out unexpected expenses and financial emergencies that could throw their budgets off.  This drove home the importance of having a nest egg for the unexpected.
Students used worksheets to total expenses, plan purchases and calculate decisions that would have to be made to stay on budget.  The activity was very eye-opening for students, who left the simulation with a more realistic view of budgeting and saving.
Local businesses who provided volunteers for the activity included West Virginia Junior College, Northwestern Mutual, City of Bridgeport, Align HR Talent, Antero Resources, Aurora Flight Sciences, Bridgeport Conference Center, Central WV Community Action, First United Bank and Trust, GFWC Bridgeport Juniors, Homefinders Plus Real Estate, Integrity Financial Planning, Louis Johnson VA Medical Center, Movement Mortgage, Salem University, The Thrasher Group, WesBanco, West Union Bank and Harrison County Chamber of Commerce.

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