Students in Lathrop High’s Life Management class got a dose of real life experience at the Mad City Money event Tuesday.
Never mind that the checking account, debit card, family situation, and occupation they were given was just pretend.
“The money sure goes by fast,” said sophomore Ashley John, who was assigned the job of an office supervisor with husband and children.
She also had to work with a $6,000 income, balancing house payments and furnishings along with food, child care, and other expenses.
And then there was the ‘Fickle Finger of Fate,’ which was a wild card thrown to some students for unplanned expenses.
John received two such bills, including one for a $150 a barbecue grill.
Mad City Money was held in the school cafeteria.
This fun and educational exercise consisted of nearly 65 students from the Life Management class visiting 10 stations while having to balance their accounts.
Those 10 stations – volunteers included community and LHS staff members – represented Mad City Money shop owners, which included:
Really Realty & Utilities – Housing (students had to see if they could buy or rent a home).
Big Wheels New & Used – Transportation (they had to figure out if they could afford to purchase a new or used vehicle).
Gotta Eat – Groceries (high end shopping consisted of steaks and pork chops while macaroni & cheese represented low-end spending) and Dining (fast food vs. fine dining at a restaurant).
Fun Stuff – Entertainment.
Home Stuff – Furniture and decoration.
Kid Care – Formula, diapers, child care and more.
Mad City Mall – Wants and extras (flat screen televisions, game stations, etc.).
My Closet – Clothing and personal care items.
Credit Union – Banking services.
Fickle Finger of Fate – Unplanned expenses and windfall checks.
Instructors Erlinda Selga and Megan Armstrong noted that the exercise taught life lessons – students, for example, actually had to learn how to write out a check and register their balance.
“They could take out a loan or use their debit card,” Armstrong said.
Representatives from Golden One Credit Union were actually on hand to help out.
A few students finished the 90-minute exercise with a deficit on their account.
Many such as John and Amrit Rai had positive fund balances.
Rai was also given job as office supervisor along with a family. She had enough to buy into a $400,000 home and a luxury car.
Rai and John, who didn’t buy a car, both finished with over $1,000 in their accounts.
Lisa Vang of Golden One Credit Union noted that any leftover money should be put into a savings account.
She heard from students their take on this exercise after figuring out all of their expenses.
“I heard ‘it’s complicated,’ ‘it’s stressful,’ ‘this gives me a headache,’ and ‘it’s realistic,’” Vang said.
Many came away appreciating the hard-working efforts of their parents.
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail email@example.com.