GEAR UP students were hit with a dose of reality when they were challenged to be adults for a day, learning how to budget their finances, oversee monthly expenditures and tackle credit card debt as part of an immersive simulation hosted by Junior Achievement at Finance Park.
As part of the financial literacy workshop, students, who were joined by their parents, were given a tablet with a persona that included a job, annual salary, age, marital status, debt, savings and credit score.
Led by JA volunteers, they visited storefronts – including banks, utility companies and childcare agencies – to explore offerings and how to fit purchases into their monthly expenditures without going over budget.
“Children need to learn at a very early age what money and savings are,” #GEARUPworks parent Brenda Colins said. “Budgeting is not as easy as students think, and this provides them insight into what it’s actually like.”
Families learned what savings and investments are, when to get a loan, and how the decisions they make about education and career can impact their potential income and quality of life.
“As a student who lives in, I wouldn’t say the richest neighborhood, we struggle, especially going to college, and I think this is a really good program to learn how to finance your money and how college benefits you,” said Fernanda Camacho, a junior at South East High School. “It may be hard starting it, but in the end, it’s always going to be beneficial.”
Fernanda was accompanied by her father, Silvestre. This was his first GEAR UP workshop.
“It’s important for parents to know what your student is going to do after high school and how a university operates so we can help our students, if not financially, at least with knowledge,” he said. “I’m learning day by day and I come to these events with the best attitude in the world.”