Early lessons in financial literacy good for students

Financial responsibility is something that everyone must accept as they navigate life. Many of the lessons are learn-as-you-go experiences regarding the cost of food, housing, utilities, car insurance — you name it.

Sometimes those lessons are learned the hard way through financial struggles.

However, a local organization has worked for 25 years to help children develop good personal financial habits early. The Bartholomew County Financial Literacy Coalition hosts the annual Reality Store, which gives eighth-graders a chance to learn about the costs of living and earning potential from various careers — before costly mistakes are made as children turn into adults.

This year students from Central Middle School, Hauser Jr./Sr. High, Columbus Christian, St. Peter’s Lutheran and Whitecreek Lutheran participated in the November program.

Students selected a career based on their grade-point average and learned how their educational success impacted the salaries they received in fields such as law enforcement, teaching, engineering and others. They opened pretend checking accounts with designated monthly salaries, and were given the option of being married or single. The students moved among 18 booths that deducted costs for utilities, housing, students loans and other expenses.

Such a format is beneficial, because students at this age often don’t understand how much things cost. The Reality Store helps them quickly learn that some costs may be greater than expected, such as child care, and that saving money is important. It also helps students understand the value of education and how it can impact their earning potential.

The Bartholomew County Financial Literacy Coalition’s mission to teach students about making smart personal financial decisions is appreciated at a time when far too many people of all ages lean on credit cards and have a buy-now-pay-later approach to spending. If instilling good personal financial habits early can help students avoid pitfalls throughout life, then it’s a wise investment.

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