With an outstanding and integrated use of a student receiving an initial packet of a profile, the teens are set with the task of moving among the room to tables of experts that lead them into filling their required spots related to normal living costs.
One young man stated that his profile had him working as a sports trainer making $2404 per month as a take home salary but his wife was a part-time clerk bringing in $1000 to add to their monthly budget. In following this student to the many necessary locations, he quickly found that he had to budget for transportation expenses, monthly rent, household grocery items, basic furnishings and one child, while attempting to include some standard electronic choices that he really wanted but couldn’t afford.
Each packet came with an actual checkbook in which the students fill out a check when making purchases along the way. Some students had to go to the credit union table for advice, while others remained tight in spending their money.
An additional reality concept was each profile being encumbered by monthly obligations such as student loans, existing credit card debt, medical bills and possible child care costs. It didn’t take long for students to realize how a dollar doesn’t stretch too far and money does talk – it says “goodbye” in most cases.
In making their “purchases” the process of properly filling out a check enlightened many teens who had never filled one out before. Conservative financial options of purchasing clothing secondhand or using the bus to forgo the purchase of a vehicle were other eye-opening moments for the students to understand creating a savings. Either way, the teenagers were required to balance their money and understand fees or interest rates for accuracy at each station. Volunteers were professional in their advice and techniques of counseling the students in their purchase choices, as well as introducing the use of entertainment funds. The complete program offered financial overviews from every area within the average home. The program is to aid students in understanding the aspect of money within their own lives and that of their families.
This year’s “Bite of Reality” program also brought a second successful venture in that ten electronic tablets were being used, along with a few Smart Phones. By using the bar codes provided, these students could walk through the process paperless. It also allowed them the same selections and balancing efforts set forth by the program, which the students gravitated to using. In the future, it seemed clear that using electronics would be an enhancement to the program and it is currently being considered for long-range use.