REAL Solutions_Mad City Money Article


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REAL Solutions_Mad City Money Article

  1. 1. National Credit Union Youth Week • April 23-29, 2006 Money Management in Mad City by Lin Standke “Welcome to the future in s a new resident of Mad two online modules about opening Mad City. Congratulations! ACity, once you received “My and balancing a checking account. Big Bad Budget Work Sheet,” the The first stop was Benjamins Credit You’ve graduated, some of fun—and learning—began. The goal? Union to make a deposit in a check- To purchase housing, transportation, ing account for the amount of each you are married, and all of food, clothing, furniture, personal new family’s monthly net income. you have a job. You also items, and entertainment for you Then, with checkbooks in hand, and your family on a specific month- students started shopping. Businesses, have expenses and debt. ly income. staffed by employees from CUNA, “Now it’s time to create a Oh, and by the way, you can’t be CUNA Mutual, and Great Wisconsin overdrawn or have less than $200 in (formerly CUNA) Credit Union sold budget so that you’ll know your checking account by the end of to students with realistic flair. Stu- just how much of your hard- the session. dents made their own choices from options that merchants trying to “sell earned money you can Adult budgets in high school up” pushed on them. If a student spend on day-to-day living. That’s how a two-hour simulation wrote a check with a pencil, the of life as an adult began for 25 high- merchant wouldn’t accept it, remind- And, of course, how much school students attending a statewide ing the buyer to rewrite it in ink. you can save for future 4-H leadership conference in Madi- son, Wis. Necessities needs and wants.” Students selected a career from a It was no surprise that most stu- group of occupa- dents headed to the My Wheels deal- tions that included ership next. A car is usually a young lawyer, teller, vet- adult’s first major purchase. And be- erinary assistant, cause this was a budgeting simula- and farmer. Inside tion, not a course in how to buy a each career enve- car, students skipped the steps of re- lope was different searching car makes, models, and information about prices. The only options were monthly salaries new/used, sedan/truck/SUV and lux- , and personal obli- ury/economy. gations such as Buying a home and finding afford- taxes, school loans, able day care offered some unfamiliar and credit card challenges and choices. One student debt. The Mad decided that he could take the bus to City simulation work so that his “wife” could have a created instant dependable car to drive their daugh- families for some ter to day care on the way to her teenagers, com- job. Another student decided to pur- plete with wallet- chase used baby clothes “since they sized pictures of get all yucky and babies grow so the kids, which quickly,” so that she could spend added realism— more on housing that gave her fami- and humor. ly the living space it needed. Presession The goal of Mad City was to let homework in the students experience their own CUNA’s Guides to money mistakes. Typical dilemmas Students visited eight businesses in Mad City to pay bills, Independence pro- had powerful learning effects. Stu- make deposits, donate to charity, and purchase goods and services. Joe Day, CUNA’s director of consumer business gram required stu- dents discovered that they couldn’t development, staffed the My Wheels car dealership. dents to complete buy all the things that they wanted 2006 SAVINGTEEN • CUNA CENTER FOR PERSONAL FINANCE | 17A
  2. 2. (e.g. a big house and a brand new was much more expensive then they truck) and still provide for them- had thought and that budgeting and Main Street selves and their imaginary families saving was the only way get what in Mad City (e.g. with food). Several teenagers re- they needed and wanted. turned to Really Realty to trade in How would they change their fu- My Wheels: For new and used their expensive living spaces for tures? “I’m going to get good grades vehicles, plus bus passes, cheaper housing just to make ends so I can make it into college and insurance, gas, and car repairs. meet. earn bigger bucks,” said one student Really Realty: For housing and “Now I know what my parents go who admitted to a C+ average. “I mobile homes, apartments, insur- through every month and why they want it all,” claimed one ambitious ance, and utilities. won’t buy me everything I ask for,” teenager. “So I guess I should save Gotta Eat!: For groceries, fast said one teenager struggling to bal- some money instead of spending it.” food and dining out, plus lattes ance the costs of day care and Isn’t it interesting how much diapers with a mortgage and car teenagers learn about money when and soft drinks. payments. they experience adult life—even if Abercrombie & Duds: For clothing only for a few hours? s and personal care items. Lessons learned Sit ‘n’ Sleep: For furniture and In the debriefing session, the Lin Standke ( is electronics, and telephone, cable, CUNA’s manager of youth programs and and ISP access. teenagers revealed how they liked the a former trainer and instructional design future and what advice they’d give Family Matters: For children’s manager. themselves. All agreed that adulthood clothing, diapers, toys, and day care. Fun Factory: For travel and Family income entertainment. Benjamins Credit Union: For My Occupation: Firefighter Spouse/Partner’s Occupation: checking and saving accounts, Insurance agent charitable donations, and credit cards. Monthly salary: $2,504 Monthly salary: $2,230 Taxes and deductions: $501 Taxes and deductions: $446 Children Lin, age 4 Family debt and payments Resources • Medical insurance: $200 month covers you and your family Robert E. Morgan, The Creative Teaching Site; www.creativeteach • Student loan payment: $120 month J. Funke, 1988 Simulation And • Credit card debt: $2,558 Games, Vol. 19, 277-303 18A | 2006 SAVINGTEEN • CUNA CENTER FOR PERSONAL FINANCE
  3. 3. National Credit Union Youth Week • April 23-29, 2006 The Value of Learning by Simulation Simulations consist of artificial situ- teenagers to sleep. But a budgeting traditional classroom methods do. ations that allow players to practice simulation elicits higher levels of in- What’s more, simulations encourage dealing with dilemmas and conflicts. terest, motivation, and engagement. persistence, creativity, productive Simulations imitate reality while re- These produce higher quality research, and cooperative team- ducing complexity to manageable problem solving in students than work. s proportions. Players walk in the shoes of other people and learn by experimenting with different solu- tions to realistic problems. The Mad City simulation required teenagers to integrate their knowl- edge of money, skills in math, atti- tudes about choices, and money values. A chance Within the to make program’s mistakes two hours, students and suffer made deci- consequences sions with safely. immediate repercus- sions that might not occur for years in real life. They had the opportunity to modify their decisions and ac- tions and see the impact of changes right away. Students learned that erasers and calculators are important tools for creating They had chances to make mis- a monthly budget. “It’s like a puzzle,” said one teenager. “You have to use all the pieces and they all have to fit.” takes—and suffer the conse- quences of their decisions in a realistic, but safe, environment. Robert Morgan, classroom teacher and director of the Computer, Space Science, Simulation, and Faculty Technology Training Center (University School, Shaker Heights, Ohio), believes simulations are a good way for learners to take on re- sponsible roles, find ways to suc- ceed, and develop problem-solving tools. Morgan states that simulations make students hands-on partici- pants, not just listeners or ob- servers. Simulations motivate students because their involvement in the activity is so personal that it leads them to want to learn more about the simulated subject matter. Most adults would consider the topic of budgeting to be a “yawner.” Jim Hanson, CUNA’s vice president of personal finance, illustrated how “life Books and classroom lectures on happens” by presenting each student with at least one bill for unexpected expenses, such as replacing eye glasses that someone sat on, and at least the subject would likely put most one windfall, such as winning free groceries or receiving an inheritance. 2006 SAVINGTEEN • CUNA CENTER FOR PERSONAL FINANCE | 19A