The Bensalem High School gym was open for exercise on Nov. 14. That is, an exercise in budgeting, as more than 500 students got a dose of financial reality.
Community members, credit union employees and retired Bensalem High School teachers were on hand to guide students through a Financial Reality Fair, sponsored by TruMark Financial Credit Union, as they learned about credit scores, budgeting and how to make decisions when it comes to managing money.
Students were given a budget worksheet complete with a career and salary, and challenged to make spending decisions on necessities such as housing, transportation, food and clothing, insurance and other categories.
“It is an excellent opportunity for our students to see what it is like to actually make financial decisions,” said Ron Morris, business technology teacher. “This is a valuable experience to help them understand the concept and the value of money.”
Everyone faces unexpected situations, and as part of the exercise, students spun the Wheel of Reality, which represents the unknown. A spin of the wheel could bring good fortune, such as a tax refund, or bad fortune, such as unexpected car repairs.
Following their selections, students met with financial counselors who reviewed their budget worksheets, checked students’ calculations and provided counseling if students needed to make changes to meet their expenses. These changes might include eliminating a purchase or getting a part-time job.
Students left with a new appreciation for their parents’ skills of budgeting.
“It was a good reality of what it’s like to be an adult,” said one student. “Experiencing making the big decisions of how to spend money was great.”