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VHS students study finance

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Freshman at Verbena High School have experienced what life after graduation might be like through the “Your Money, Your Life” simulation presented by Chilton County 4-H.

Students were randomly given an occupation and accompanying salary. They then had to make the money last through paying for things at the different stations, including housing, car and other bills, along with opportunities to spend money on fun things at the luxury booth.

Dakota Strickland said he knew the program would be difficult.

Many students had been unsure what to expect.

During the simulation, he had a job in human services, making more than $2,000 a month. He said the most difficult part was “trying to save your money” to have enough for everything needed.

Kellisa Pierce was a health worker.

Ethan Dopson was a secretary making $30,000 per year. He said “trying to buy a home with the money you have” was difficult. He decided to go with a mobile home.

“I didn’t have enough money to do nothing else,” Dopson said.

Alexis Smitherman said the cost of diapers was expensive.

In the simulation, she had one child.

Kellisa, who had two children in the simulation, said paying for child care was a major expense.

She had to give back her luxury car when she realized she could not afford it.

Paris Battle said trying not to spend money was difficult.

“You can’t make it a lot of places with a little bit of money,” Ethan said, commenting on what he took away from the simulation. “Everything is expensive.”

He said the activity was “a head start to see how it is.”

“I learned that money don’t go a long way,” Dakota said. “You have gotta have a steady income.”

Despite the challenges, students did also enjoy the activity. Paris said she enjoyed buying the car. She chose a used car.

“One reason I really liked it is because they actually gave them an occupation, they didn’t let them pick,” VHS teacher Briar Smith said. “Therefore, they had to deal with that hand that they were given.”

She said students compared salaries after the activity and saw that some made substantially more than others.

Smith said she used this as an opportunity to emphasize to students that in real life they will be making decisions about careers and college that will impact their salary.

“I think it gave them a little dose of reality of how much things cost,” Smith said. “… It was a great program.”

She said it was “amazing to see” students as they reached the luxury table and realized they did not have any money to spend on fun things.

The Life Happens table sometimes meant the students had an unexpected bill. Other times they were given extra money because it was their birthday, etc.