Welcome to the real world
One of the most practical high school classes and hands-on experience in dealing with daily finances will assist students for many years as they eventually experience life away from the security of their parents.
Not only does Churchill County High School offer a class in finance and budgeting for its juniors and seniors, but Financial Horizons Credit Union also lends its expertise by bringing in professionals from the field of finance and business to show students the difficulties of planning a monthly budget.
For some students, they enjoy the challenge; for others, though, the planning is as nerve-wracking as what mom and dad could encounter.
“It’s kind of exciting and fun,” said Angela Guthrie, branch manager of Financial Horizons’ Fallon office. “There is a price tag on everything.”
According to the scenario, students go to about 10 stations or tables and must make purchases at each station for their families by using real-world figures. Worksheets in every student’s packet correspond to each station. Once students decide on which plan or commodity they want, they then write a check to the entity.
Students, though, experienced the sticker shock of budgeting housing, food, car and childcare costs while trying to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. Worksheets state what students need from each table. Just as in real life, the best-laid plans, however, don’t always work out.
Guthrie said some students will choose a nice house or apartment to rent and spend money on good transportation. Once the childcare cost is tallied, she said students realize they can’t afford the daycare and must re-evaluate their housing and transportation expenses.
Guthrie understands the dilemma many students face with childcare.
“For myself, I paid over $7,000 in a year for one child,” she pointed out.
For example, to pay childcare at a reputable daycare center costs students $900 a month. For the child to stay with grandma, the cost dips to $300. Either way, the costs present a burden.
Many students take their paperwork and calculator to the household food section, usually a final stop. Guthrie said in order for students to make their budges work, many of them buy the cheapest food.
At the end of the hour-long exercise, Guthrie said students must have $100 or less in their checking accounts.
Keith Lund, who teaches finance, said students work on budgets in his classes, and he receives good feedback from them because they enjoy the experience. From time to time, Lund also hears back from parents who say they wish they had taken a finance class in high school.
For the practical exercise, Lund then asks for volunteers from the business, community, education and government sectors to help man the tables and work with the students on their choices.
Student Shane Horton said he experienced high prices with transportation and childcare, but he was familiar with food purchases.
“It was what I expected,” the CCHS senior said. “I go grocery shopping a lot.”
After Horton left the table, Nick Serrano of Greater Nevada Mortgage and Credit Union, said this is a fantastic exercise.
“Every kid should have to do this and take a class on credit,” he said. “Anything we can do with finances is good. I guarantee they will take one or two things away from this class.”
Madeline Robbins had moved from the tables to a quiet spot to calculate finances. The Fallon junior said the hardest thing for her is remembering to write down items and amounts in a check register.
As for items, Robbins also felt childcare was high, but she thought clothing was priced lower than what she expected. Robbins, though, has been savvy with budgeting. For example, she doesn’t buy clothing at full price but looks for sales. The same goes for other items such as food.
Although the students used a check register to balance their money, Guthrie said the younger generation tends to be more in tune with online banking and using phone apps while analyzing their budgets.
Yet, it is definitely a sign of the times in the budgeting process, said Guthrie, because younger people rely on technology while the older customer base prefers to do banking with statements and a check register.