Students get a dose of financial reality

Middle-schoolers learn the basics of personal money management from area professionals as part of Reality Store program

EIGHTH-GRADER Rizza Smile Dalogdog of John Long Middle School visited Cheryl Diderich at one of the Reality Store stations at the Rose-Harms American Legion Hall on April 19, where students learned about financial literacy from approximately 50 community business members. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press Staff

Eighth-graders from John Long Middle School recently had the opportunity to explore the world of personal finance during a field trip called the Reality Store.

About 50 area professionals volunteered to explain financial literacy skills to the students on Thursday, April 20, at the Rose-Harms American Legion Hall in Grafton.

“The students specifically learned how to live on a monthly budget,” said Lori Mathias, the School District’s business and information technology instructor. “It was kind of like the game of ‘Life,’ but it was a little bit more serious than that.”

She said before the students went on the field trip, they researched and chose careers to see what their annual and monthly salaries would be.

“They also determined how many years of education they would need because that also translates to what your chances are for having student loans,” Mathias said.

When the students arrived at the Reality Store, they were randomly assigned a marital status and number of children.

The first station the students visited involved having taxes withheld from their paychecks, then they visited a banking station where they received a checkbook along with a credit and debit cards.

“They were required to buy transportation that involved choosing new and used cars with insurance,” Mathias said. “They also had to find a place to live, whether it was a home with a monthly mortgage or a rental.”

Students had to pay for groceries and cell phones, and they had the option to pay for new clothes, dining and health club memberships.

Mathias said if a student ran into financial hardships, there was an accountant available to help guide them through the process. 

After the field trip, the students wrote an essay about their experience.

“It’s really interesting to read what the students have to say because they finally realize what their mom and dad have to go through,” Mathias said. “It really opens up their eyes.”




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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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