By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – Area eighth graders got a dose of reality April 10, as they participated in the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s “Reality Store”.
Over 300 students went to the Marshfield Middle School with a career assignment and family situation, and met with business representatives and community volunteers to try balancing a household budget. Business instructor Dan Akin says this is the 14th year for the reality store program.
“The objective is to have a job, try to balance your budget, find out that you are probably going to be losing about 20-25 percent of your salary to taxes for various reasons, and then try to make ends meet,” said Akin. “Because we don’t give the kids a choice in their career, it’s totally random; you have all kinds of life scenarios that you have to make adjustments with.”
The program is part of the eighth grade Career Quest curriculum.
Noah Mandel of Columbus Catholic had a wife who made most of the household income, while he was a fast-food worker. After buying a house, food and clothing, paying for utilities, two cars, the internet, health insurance, and retirement planning, he came in under budget.
“I thought that it was really accurate of what you are actually going to have to do, because if you don’t manage your money and decide to buy fancy cars and stuff, then you could go bankrupt,” Mandel said.
Thousands of students have now gone through the Reality Store. Akin says it’s a program that got its start in Spencer, which holds an annual Reality Store event in March.
“They do maybe talk to their parents about this, that this is a challenge for them,” Akin said. “This is probably the best way we can do it for an eighth grader, until they are out on their own maybe 10 years later – 22-24 years old – you know, this is the one reality we can give them here at the Middle School.”