ELIDA — No matter your income, balancing a home budget can be stressful.
Elida Middle School students learned that firsthand Friday as they participated in the Real World, Real Money program.
Each year, middle school students spend several weeks taking different financial classes as part of social studies class. The lessons learned are then put to practice at the end of the year, where students are given a family income level and family size. The students must then visit 13 different stations and buy or rent a home, buy a car, purchase groceries and pay for utilities and other common household expenses. The event is sponsored by Superior Federal Credit Union and Ohio State University-Allen County Extension and held in partnership with the school district.
“We try to make it as realistic as possible,” said Superior Federal Credit Union Human Relations Specialist Carrie Calvelage. “They have to make real decisions. Sometimes what they want and what they can afford come in to play. Sometimes they have to buy the compact car, or they can only afford to rent for now. It opens their eyes. A lot of times they do not realize how much money Mom and Dad spend every month.”
OSU Extension 4H Agent Kelly Coble said the event can also make students think harder about how well they do in school.
“It is harder in college if you have a 1.8 GPA,” Coble said. “They start thinking about what they have to do to get to an income level they want. They have to weigh maybe just getting a bachelor’s degree and starting work, the pros and cons of renting or buying and balancing needs and wants.”
Eighth grader Emma Overholtz had the task of balancing a budget of $4,308 per month for a family of four. She said it definitely opened her eyes on everyday living.
“I thought I would have more money left over,” Emma said. “I didn’t realize how much everything costs, and it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. You have to cut corners.”
It was the 14th year Elida has sponsored the program.
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or on Twitter @LanceMihm