Economics students at Butler Tech’s School of the Arts recently took part in a financial literacy simulation called Real Monday. Real World. The students began the unit in the classroom with lessons focused on income, budgeting, and the economy followed by a spending simulation where students “learn by doing” as they connect what they’ve learned to real-life scenarios.
Each student was assigned an occupation and corresponding salary as well as a family size and the ages of any children. Their simulation persona helped the students experience a lifestyle and budget choices similar to what they will face as 27-year-old adults.
“I’m always trying to teach students through experiences,” explained Mrs. Folz, Social Studies Instructor for Butler Tech School of the Arts. “The Real Money. Real World. simulation is particularly effective because students have to manage typical expenses based on the monthly income of a career they are interested in. Giving students control over their career choice helps the simulation feel relevant and meaningful. Additionally, students are able to see the value in the financial literacy lessons as they apply content from our class during the simulation.”
On the day of the experience, the students visited 14 Real Money. Real World. booths staffed by Butler Tech business partners, community members, and staff members. Each stop along the way allowed students to make decisions that would result in a financial impact such as childcare, health and wellness expenses, insurance, housing, and even their entertainment choices.
Mrs. Folz explained that the most beneficial piece of the simulation is that students become more intentional about their financial planning and decision-making. A big surprise many students had was the impact children have on nearly every financial decision. Several students expressed that they better appreciate the sacrifices of their parents and caregivers as a result of the simulation.
“During the Real Money. Real World. simulation it shocked me how much I had to do for my children,” shared Alyssa Kresky, junior Visual Art & Design student. “As silly as it may sound I was not expecting to have to pay for different things depending on the age and quantity of children I had. Luckily for my parents, I now have a better understanding of where all their money goes. Apparently, it all goes towards my sister and me.”
“This should help students in the near and distant future,” said Folz. “Also, every student managed to stay in the black during the simulation. I hope this gives my students confidence that they can live independently.”