After all, when most children play house they don’t take it upon themselves to balance a budget complete with furniture and grocery expenses, house and car payments, tithing or tax payments. Neither do most decide they need to take on another job.
To be fair, the seventh graders participating in the Reality Store in the middle school gym last week were a little old to be playing house. They weren’t, however, too young to begin learning just what it takes to run a family budget.
Participants in the Reality Store first took a personality profile to determine what their ‘career’ would be during the exercise, which would in-turn determine their monthly salary.
That salary in hand, the students were to visit a series of about twenty booths to acquire and pay for life’s necessities — from entertainment to clothes and life insurance to charitable donations.
Their first rude-awakening usually came during a student’s first stop — Uncle Sam.
“We’re the first setback,” said Andrea Hampton. Hampton, like the other two volunteers working the IRS booth, was wearing black.
“We’re mourning for them,” she said.
Hampton found she could relate to the students as they were shocked, horrified and nauseated to learn they must fork over sometimes more than $1,000 of their monthly salary for taxes.
“The first taxes I paid, I didn’t even know how to write the check,” Hampton said.
After their first set-back, students were free to visit the remaining booths in any order, so long as they visited all of them.
Students who finished with money in their checking account received a PayDay candy bar. Students who couldn’t downsize their home or free up any cash by trading in for a lesser car to get out of debt were given a Zero candy bar for effort.
Downgrading was certainly a common occurrence, as students were forced to downgrade their cable package or trade in their Monte Carlo.
“We’re selling the heck out of Dodge Neons today,” said Micheal Oliver of Wildcat Chevrolet. “I’ve got lawyers coming back [to trade] vehicles in.”
For the rest of this story, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.