By Rob Whitmire
Students enrolled in personal finance classes at the Stevens Point Area Senior High School were given the opportunity to test their skill and knowledge in personal accounting, financial responsibility and life choices on Wednesday.
The Reality Shop, an annual event, welcomes local businesses to set up real world exercises in the school’s library.
“The Reality Shop is an excellent way for students to put to practice many of the concepts and topics that are covered throughout the course,” said Brent Gostomski, business education teacher at SPASH and event coordinator.
“A few of the main goals of the event are for students to understand how their future career choice will impact their lifestyle, the importance of a spending plan to be sure they are spending less than they earn, planning for unexpected expenses,” he said. “And, hopefully, an appreciation of the many financial decisions their parents are trying to balance.”
Reality Shop is a financial simulation that allows high school students to choose careers and make decisions about their budgets and lifestyles. The project is organized by Partners in Education and involves 20 to 30 local business volunteers. Students each receive income and random information regarding individual marital status and parenthood.
Students also receive instructions on making purchases. Business volunteers staff stations around the library relating to taxes and banking, real estate and apartment rentals, clothing and cars, child care, charitable giving, groceries, insurance and utilities.
Student visit each station to make purchases or payments while trying to stay within their allotted budget. When they are through, they assess their decisions and financial status.
“I had a great time participating in the Reality Shop; it allowed students like myself to gain a basic understanding of budgeting and the various expenses that one might encounter when living on their own,” said senior Olivia Schilcher. “While the activity was challenging, I enjoyed being able to create a mock budget based upon my future career interests.”
Reality shop is held at SPASH at the end of each semester for students in the personal finance classes.