Real World Real Money

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en Español

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When is the last time you wrote a check for a purchase at the grocery? These days we tend to use plastic for most monetary transactions. Problems arise if we do not have primary knowledge of a check register and how to keep track of those dollars flying out of our bank account. Our youth is at more of a disadvantage as we as adults are using this tool less and less; the skills are not passed down as they used to be.

Northview Middle School in Hickory, NC recently hosted Cooperative Extension’s, Real Money, Real World (RMRW) financial literacy program to fill in the gaps. Designed by Ohio State University Extension, the three primary goals are:

To increase participants’ awareness of how education level and corresponding career choice influence personal income and financial security.
To increase the students’ knowledge of money management tools used in daily spending for cost-of-living decisions.
To increase participants’ awareness of how income and lifestyle choices affect the amount of money available for discretionary spending.
A Hickory community volunteer from State Employee Credit Union shared a comment from a student, “I had someone who said his Mom was a single parent with two kids and they lived in a one bedroom apartment. He said it is fine and they make it work. This student understood the value of money; she also realized that if she could earn more, she could afford more luxuries.” Judging from this type of feedback, the program is having an impact on teaching the value of the dollar, the price to pay for luxuries as well as for everyday expenses such as food and childcare.

RMRW benefits from the combination of school educators and administrative staff and the supportive input from community volunteers who sit at booths, which represent parts of life such as, transportation, food, childcare, insurance, housing, credit and entertainment. The students gain perspective as the volunteers offer real life advice as they make decisions based on their paycheck. However at the end of this simulation, if they are left with any money in their checking account, they are awarded a 100 Grand…candy bar, or if they are without funds in their check register, they are offered a Lifesaver but they can at least chose the flavor.


Northview students display their 100 grand bars presented by 4-H for completing the simulation with money left in their bank accounts.