Simulation Lets Knox County Students Budget for Actual Spending

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11-year-old Caliyah Gamble had a husband, 4-year-old twins and a veterinarian career on Monday.

And a lot of bills.

With her annual salary of $ 43,500, Caliyah thought she couldn’t afford a “nice” house – so she opted for an “executive apartment” in a gated community with plenty of amenities. Her children would share a room, but “I’m sharing a room with my sister now,” she said.

Caliyah wanted a decent car, a Netflix subscription, and some money left over for an emergency fund, so she also had a “side crush”: Saturday shifts at a party venue. It left her in the dark at the end of the month – but uh, oh! She forgot to budget for food.

“Don’t spend a lot of money on stupid stuff” was his takeout. “Now I know what my mother thinks of me! “

Caliyah was one of 15 Knox County students School of Freedom at the Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Academy, one of the Grandes Ecoles partnership‘s 16 community schools in Knox County. After six weeks of discussions about higher education, decision-making and the kind of life they hoped to lead, the children spent Monday browsing the On my own financial simulation provided by the University of Tennessee Extension Service.

In the exercise, students were 26 years old and given careers, monthly salaries and families. Then they had to budget at various stations with volunteer staff, including accommodation, utilities, food, child care, transportation, and entertainment. A bank teller forced them to invest a minimum of $ 25 per month in an emergency fund and presented long-term investment options. An entertainment station showed the cost of concerts, movies, and arcades, but also cheap or free options for family fun.

Students mingle to learn about personal finance while attending Freedom School at Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Academy in East Knoxville on Monday, July 22, 2019. Students received careers, salaries and family status, and have been asked to budget for living expenses.

In a “curved ball” station, students drew a map that could give them a car repair, a speeding ticket, children’s expenses or a broken phone screen, or give them some money. extra for a birthday present or a competition prize, for example.

Those who were missing could apply for a second part-time job or look for pledged assets. A graph looked at the cumulative cost of using business “cash advances”.

UT extension specialist Marci Hethmon, who led the exercise, said it was an updated version of a program the extension service has been running for about 15 years. , and that almost all counties in Tennessee use it. It’s usually introduced to teens through young students, she said, but she was excited to see younger children take on the challenge.

Camden Powell, 9, discovered personal finance while studying at Freedom School at Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Academy in East Knoxville on July 22, 2019. Students were given careers, salaries and family status, and were invited to budget for living expenses.

“If we can get kids comfortable with money management from an early age, they can become these economic concepts,” Hethmon said. “We want to push (financial literacy) to the lowest grades.”

Most of the children were given better paying professions, although some were also single parents. But Kristalee Pennington, 11, found she was struggling to make ends meet for herself and her imaginary 5-year-old with her salary of $ 20,700 as an emergency medical technician. She opted for a one-width prefabricated house, bought a family bus pass instead of a car, and tried to sell a piece of her jewelry for extra cash.

“You have to know how to spend money wisely and put money into an emergency fund,” said Kristalee, whose career goal is to become an anesthesiologist. She said she had already learned the hard work and sacrifice because her own mother had taken on a second job, working mornings and evenings so she could be with Kristalee and her sister during the afternoon.

With a pencil to her nose, Maliyah Queemer ponders the cost of utilities as students learn about personal finances while attending Freedom School at Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Academy in East Knoxville on Monday, July 22, 2019. Students received career, salary and family status and were asked to budget for living expenses.

Freedom School principal Denise Dean helped the children, who developed critical thinking and problem-solving skills, to make the connection between more education – or job training – and higher wages.

“You get the education you need and you can get the job you want,” Dean said.

The students said they got a dose of reality on Monday, but they also had fun with it.

Noah Johnson, 11, had his eye on a sports bike – but he had two children. Where would he put them? Asked Sam Brown, Freedom School volunteer, pastor of Logan Temple AME Zion Church.

“We’re going somewhere, I’m going to make them work!” Noah responded.

“What if it rains?” Brown asked.

“This is THEIR problem! said Noah laughing.

“I’m glad I’m not YOUR child,” replied a classmate.

In the end, however, Noah opted for a $ 3,600 “reliable sedan”.

“I will never take money for granted again,” he said at the end of the program.

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