2017-04-05 / Editorial

Reality Store shines a sober light on responsibility

Managing our money is always a challenge. If it seems like the money runs out before the month more often than not, you’re probably not alone.

For too many of us, that’s a stark lesson we learn as adults and we often spend too much time trying to dig our way out of a hole or just trying to keep our financial heads above water.

That’s one reason programs like the Reality Store can be so valuable.

Sponsored by the Roxboro Area Chamber of Commerce, the Reality Store is targeted to middleand high-schoolers who probably have relatively little concept of where all mom and dad’s money goes.

Here’s how it works. Each student is given a backstory. They are assigned a job, maybe a spouse, perhaps some children. They are given a monthly salary.

Then the students move from station to station making purchases. They have to buy housing, transportation, groceries, childcare if it’s appropriate. In short, they have to consider all the expenses adults would have to deal with. At each step along the way, they had choices to make. For instance they could choose to buy a fancy car or they could purchase something more moderately priced. And, there can be some unexpected twists and turns in the game. They could have a car break-down or they could gain an inheritance that makes life easier.

I had the chance to work one of the stations last week at Roxboro Community School and it was fascinating to see the students return to our station looking to trade in one vehicle for a less costly one.

In one case, a student had enjoyed a good turn of events and returned to purchase a second vehicle. – a motorcycle.

That’s much the way life works and it’s a really good object lesson for students to realize that money is not a limitless resource.

It’s also a lesson in the value of education. Students saw that jobs requiring more education paid higher salaries and provided a better lifestyle for the student and their pretend family.

Hopefully, they will understand that the pretend circumstances they found themselves in last week are not all that different from the realistic situations they will find themselves in not too many years down the road.

And for the adults who participated, the great fun of it came from watching students reach the understanding that they really do have to manage their money and control their impulses to take care of the things that are most important.

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