Students to get crash course in real-world personal finance

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 15:03

Students at Eagle River High will be growing up fast this weekend. Maybe too fast.

The school will host a “Get REAL” Financial Reality Fair simulation designed to show them how finance works in the real world. Presented by the Financial Reality Foundation in conjunction with Denali Federal Credit Union, the fair puts students to the test by giving them a career, having them spend money and making their own personal budgets.

When students get into the “real” world of the seminar, it can be an eye-opener.

“The number one comment is, ‘Kids cost way too much,’” said Karina Wentworth, executive director of the Financial Reality Foundation.

The foundation was started in 2014. Since then, more than 2,000 students from more than a dozen schools have participated in the program, which uses real-life salespeople to try and separate young pepole from their imaginary salaries.

Wentworth said the idea is to make financial planning seem as real as possible so high school students get a taste of real budgeting before moving out on their own.

“It’s a pretty intense simulation,” she said.

Students get to choose from 150 differnt careers when they begin the seminar, then must navigate the tricky world of banking and lending. In addition to getting a simulated salary, students can spin a “wheel of reality” that throws life events at them — everything from promotions to family tragedies.

“That’s generally pretty harsh,” Wentworth said of the wheel.

The foundation is still looking for business professionals to volunteer their time at the Saturday event. For more information on how to volunteer, contact Wentworth at karina@financialreality.org

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