Badger High School seniors find paying their own way is an eye-opening experience
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Badger High School senior Jessica Heinrich, left, gets a card for an added medical expense from Patricia Wolter, a nurse and school board member at Badger. Wolter and others randomly handed out expenses, like medical bills and traffic tickets, to students during the Reality Check simulation. Terry Mayer/staff.
LAKE GENEVA — Two weeks ago, the future looked pretty good to Logan Kaskin, a senior at Badger High School: twin 1-year-old sons, a wife with a good-paying job as an auto mechanic, and his own gross monthly salary as a dairy farmer bringing in more than $7,000.
But he hadn’t yet written his first check to pay any bills.
Kaskin, and Badger’s entire senior class — about 300 students — took part May 20 in Reality Check, an interactive event sponsored by Educators Credit Union that allows teens to test their money-management skills without breaking the bank.
Students are asked to fill out a survey prior to the event, choosing an occupation and guessing their income and expenses.
Based on their job choice, students are given a prediction of their monthly starting salary, using pay-scale statistics for similar jobs in Wisconsin. Students also are given details of a future life profile: whether they’re married, have any children, any other sources of income, such as a spouse’s salary, and their credit score.
Then, using that projected money, they’re asked to pay for typical monthly expenses based on area averages: mortgage or rent, car payments, groceries, utilities, student loans, insurance, entertainment. They write checks for each expense — and discover how much money is left at the end of the month.
“This is our first year of the program here,” said Marie Collins, Badger High School’s community education director and career tech education coordinator. “We brought them here because we saw the value of it.”
Other school districts in Racine and Kenosha counties also have held the event, said Kimberly Schmidt, a training and staff development coordinator for Educators Credit Union, located in Racine.
The purpose of Reality Check is to help students become conscientious consumers by learning to budget, making smart purchasing decisions, learning the impact of a credit score and thinking about their choice of a career.
Read the full story in the May 30, 2010 e-edition of Walworth County Sunday, PAGE 14A.