Princeton Students Cash In On Finance Workshop

Students and volunteers work together to budget for childcare during the personal finance simulation held at Princeton Middle-High. Photographed (from left) are volunteers Grace Worley and Alicia Ashworth, and students Veronica Blackmon and Sarah Massey.

Princeton Middle-High students learned about the value of a dollar during The Reality of Money, a personal finance simulation workshop, on Wednesday.

The simulation was presented to the school’s juniors, and gave them a peek into the future, as they were “transformed” into young adults with jobs, debt, families and other real-world responsibilities.

“This was an eye opener. I knew about bills, but I didn’t know it was this expensive,” said student Kiana Brewton. “This makes me want to tell other kids to stay in school. Go as far as you can and do what you have to do so you don’t end up with money problems and bad credit.”

The activity was brought to Princeton Middle-High through a partnership with Johnston County Public Schools and State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) to aid in financial education efforts for students.

“I hope this exercise will help our students see that there is value in furthering your education after high school,” said Princeton Middle-High Career Development Coordinator Kathryn Farrior. “Studies show that if you get some education after high school, be it a certificate, a diploma, or even a degree, that your wages increases and your chances of being unemployed decrease.”

SECU created profiles that were randomly assigned to students that detailed what their 25-year-old life could potentially look like. Each profile contained a job and monthly salary, and could possibly include families the students had to incorporate into their budgets.

“It’s a great time in their lives for them to really start thinking about the future.” said SECU Benson Branch Manager Elizabeth Fair. “This activity not only gives them a glimpse at creating a spending plan with the money, but it also reiterates the importance of having good credit and implementing a savings plan to help benefit them once they get out into the real world.”

Students were exposed to various financial learning points, such as the value of furthering education after high school, the limiting effect of bad credit on their lifestyle choices, and how “living within their means” allows them to save for their future.

“What surprised me was how realistic this activity was,” said Brewton. “My simulation was that I was married and had a three-year-old, and I ended up in debt after paying all of my bills. My husband and I had to get two jobs.”

Princeton Middle-High students (from left) Iyanna Norman, Kiana Brewton, and Magaly Almarez learn about credit card payments debt The Reality of Money.

Volunteers helped the students through 12 hands-on stations where they made decisions about housing, transportation, and other monthly expenses.

“Our community volunteers love this exercise. These are the individuals who will potentially be hiring these students in the future,” said Fair. “They are also able to provide real life experiences to help the students prepare for their future.”

SECU began giving The Reality of Money presentation to students in North Carolina in 2013. Last year the presentation was given to 125 schools across the state, according to Fair.

The Reality of Money simulation will take place for students at West Johnston High on Nov. 14, at Clayton High on Nov. 29, and South Johnston High on March 7.