April 12, 2022 - 9:12am -- krieger.117@osu.edu

As adults, each of us works hard to make our monthly income cover the necessities and still have some left over at the end of the month for retirement savings and long-term goals.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could have had a “trial run” at adult spending decisions while we were still young and able to choose our future career?

That’s the idea behind Real Money. Real World., a program developed by Ohio State University Extension.  This program allows high school students to make life choices and get a taste of the real world.

In April and May students from Archbold, Evergreen, Delta, Fayette, Pettisville and Wauseon Schools has an opportunity to experience first-hand how expenses for necessities, as well as luxuries, must be balanced with the reality of monthly income.  Students will be given an occupation, monthly income, credit card debt, and even a child or two.  “Real Money. Real World. Helps youth realize that their career choice, the education required for a career and potential lifestyle are related”, said Melissa J. Rupp County FCS Extension Educator.

Here’s how Real Money. Real World. Works:  School officials and the local program coordinator invite community business representatives and other volunteers to staff spending booths at the school.  The booths provide various services and monthly obligations such as banking, groceries, transportation, childcare, and utilities.  With their monthly “paychecks” in hand, students are required to visit each station to purchase goods and services.  Those who spend wisely may have money left over at the end of the moth; students who make lower salaries or make expensive purchases barely break even or may even go bankrupt.  For those who can’t make ends meet, there’s a Financial Advice booth where advice and options are offered.

It’s all just make-believe, but it carries a serious message.  “A lot of teens have big ideas about buying a fancy car or a big house, but they really can’t afford it.  Going through Real Money. Real World. And seeing for themselves how expensive life can be makes a big impact with the students,” said Sara Lewis, Extension Educator 4-H Youth Development.

Real Money. Real World. is planned to simulate real life as closely as possible.  Students select or are assigned a career, and number of children.  Careers all have various education requirements and payments.  Some students may want or get assigned a minimum wage job.  This job may sound like enough money to someone who is 16, but we want them to ask themselves if minimum wage will meet their needs when they are responsible for a family as an adult.

As the day begins, students quickly learn how childcare is one of their biggest expenses.  They also must visit the “chance” booth where “life” deals them something unexpected.  It could be good, like winning free groceries or bad, such as having to buy new tires for the car.

The popularity of Real Money. Real World. is growing.  The Spring 2022 Real Money. Real World. Simulations will be held on:

  • April 29, 2022 – Pettisville High School
  • April 29, 2022 – Wauseon High School
  • May 4, 2022 – Evergreen High School
  • May 6, 2022 – Archbold High School
  • May 12, 2022 – Fayette High School
  • May 18, 2022 – Delta High School

Interested in volunteering? Sign up today at https://go.osu.edu/2022realmoneyrealworld For more information, contact Melissa J. Rupp FCS Educator at the Fulton County Extension office at OSU Extension, 419-337-9210, 8770 St Rt 108, Suite A, Wauseon, OH 43567 or e-mail at rupp.26@osu.edu.