Real Money. Real World. hits WMS students

Wapakoneta Middle School students got a glimpse of their “real world” future, where taxes, child care and credit debt lie in store for them.
“Real Money. Real World.,” an Ohio State University Extension program, was created to give youth an opportunity to make budgeting decisions in a “real world” simulation.
“This helps teach kids how to man a household, keep a checkbook, learn about taxes and deductions, understand the importance of an education and how that can influence income,” OSU Extension Educator Beth Miller said.
Miller said “Real Money. Real World.” will visit every school in Auglaize County and is visiting Wapakoneta City Schools through the family and consumer science classes.
The program is geared toward eighth-graders and will be returning in April to reach the other half of the grade.
“It’s a good opportunity for them to appreciate what they have and learn the value of an education,” Miller said. “If you want those goals to come true, you’re going to have to work to get there.”
Students visited various booths offering important services they will be required to purchase once living as an independent person.
“We’re learning about money management,” Tyler Jenkins, 13, said.
Jenkins said he picked his “career” out of a jar, which turned out to be a paving equipment operator, making $40,818 a year.
Jenkins said he was fairly happy with his job, since most of the deductions and costs were not a struggle.
Students received various careers and salaries and were required to make decisions about their lifestyles in relation to their earnings.
Students chose to obtain credit, including taking out loans and credit cards, and chose whether they would earn a low wage or earn a college degree and go into debt.
They reviewed their communication options, including Internet, phone and cable, and they purchased utilities, including electric, natural gas, water, sewer and trash.
Students were required to make decisions that
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would affect their lifestyle, including what kind of car to buy, where to send children to childcare, whether to purchase new or used clothing, where to shop for groceries, whether to spend money on entertainment or to seek free activities, among others.
Wapakoneta police officer Jeff Eisert participated in the event, making sure students who purchased a car went straight to the insurance booth and paid for car insurance. If not, they received a $75 fine.
“Following rules is part of life,” Eisert said. “Better here than to get a ticket in real life.”
Ashley Robison, 14, received her first $75 fine after purchasing her car without insurance. After skipping the insurance booth a second time, Eisert stopped her again, giving her $150 worth of citations.
Visiting the insurance booth after two citations, Robison said she learned her lesson.
“After you get a ticket, you go get insurance,” Robison said.
One of the bigger decisions, whether to purchase a house or rent an apartment, was difficult for Alyssa Adkins, 14.
“I decided to rent, and, if I have money, I’ll come back and buy a house,” Adkins said.
Adkins said she wanted to get through all the booths and then see what she had left over before making and serious choices. She said she did not want to run out of funds.
Adkins’ chosen career was a personal financial adviser, making $91,000 a year.
“It’s a little overwhelming at eighth grade,” Adkins said. “I don’t think we should have to worry about things like this just yet.”