Thank you to Mrs. Kolkman for writing today's blog.
Appropriate Independence looks different for each student. Every student is working towards his or her own goals in what it means to be independent for them. In order to help our students achieve their personal Appropriate Independence, students learn about financial responsibility in their 2nd year Personal Finance class.
To make this lesson as R.E.A.L. as possible, students practice paying bills, balancing a register, writing checks, and following a budget.
What better way to practice their finance skills than to participate in My LIFE!
My LIFE (Local Interactive Financial Education) was implemented by Neil Buchanan and Liz Johnson of Community State Bank and held in Union Grove High School for participation by the Junior class. My LIFE was designed for students to see the impact of their choices on their future finances by placing them in real-life situations and making everyday financial decisions. This year, we had the exciting opportunity for Shepherd's 2nd year students to participate in the My LIFE event alongside of Union Grove High School's Junior class.
Our Shepherds students had each chosen a career path that determined their annual and monthly salary. From there, each student was assigned a credit score, credit card debt, health benefits, number of pets, etc. Once their profile was assigned and walked through, students visited the High School's gym, where many tables and volunteers and local businesses were ready to guide them through essential life decisions, like how to pay for housing, insurance, utilities and food.
After the initial shock and feeling of being overwhelmed by the large amount of noise and people, our students were able to confidently and expertly navigate each station, making choices based on a budget they created from their monthly income. Students understood the importance of paying off their credit card debt, setting up a savings account, renting an affordable apartment with a roommate, and accepting whatever unexpected challenges were given to them.
It was a great experience for our staff and students! We are excited to be able to continue participating in this program with our students next year!
Here are some of the staff and students' perspectives from the My LIFE experience:
My role was from Luv My Pets. I sold pet food, toys, grooming, and pet sitter options. Many students that had pets went for options like toys and grooming which were optional, but food was a must.
Students added their purchases together, used a ledger, and wrote checks. They had a strong working knowledge of these skills and did a great job asking questions when needed. They had positive attitudes and followed instructions. It was a great experience!
My LIFE was a fantastic event! I was very impressed with the organization and all the community volunteers that showed up to help. I worked at the Communications booth selling students cell phone, cable, and internet packages. The students even had the opportunity to purchase a home phone line if they wanted, but most students wisely opted out of this, to save money. Each time a student finished adding the cost of their phone, internet, and cable packages, they were amazed at how expensive it was. A few students even commented that they needed to thank their parents when they get home. At times, when money was tight, students would have to make a hard decision whether they wanted to cut their cable bill or decrease their minutes on their cell phone plan - both real life decisions. Our students did a great job when they came through the Communication booth. Kati and Megan made a wise choice in being roommates, something not many other Union Grove or Shepherds College students chose to do. Because Kati and Megan were roommates, they were able to share the cost of their communications bill. Overall, our students did a great job at the communications booth, gaining awareness of the cost of real life expenses and making decisions on what was a priority for them.
As I reflected on my experience at the My Life event today, I believe that six Shepherds College students came to “interview” with me at the volunteer booth - Alex, Audrey, Ryan, Israel, Krista and Sharon.
Each student did a wonderful job- maintaining eye contact, smiling, answering questions and sharing information. I was so proud of them!! They also knew how to do their checkbooks themselves and even had their own calculators to do the math. They seemed to be having a good time too.
I saw Shepherds College students in line to speak with other “interviewers” and was proud of them too—they didn’t go to the person they knew, but talked with someone else. Good for them!
Just wanted to share. It was a great event, and the students were outstanding!
The students were asked, "What did you learn from the My LIFE program?"
Wade - life has it's ups and downs. Always have a positive attitude and God will get you through. Life is tough, and we need to roll with the punches. It was entertaining watching Anthony and David join the military. This was awesome!
Alex - people are like donuts. The only thing we have to concern ourselves with is how to decorate ourselves; metaphorically speaking.
Crystal - how to pay bills. Me, Nikki and Sharon are roommates, and we have a dog.
Sharon - learning about getting an apartment and how to pay bills.
Nikki - everything is expensive in life
Kati - I'm learning that it's hard to stay in my budget because the sales people are making expensive things sound like the best option. Then later I find out I over spent my budget.
Ryan - I'm learning a lot - how to be on your own.
Sarah - everything is expensive.
Audrey - I'm in the housing line, and I still need to get groceries. I'm learning how to record finances.
Anthony - learning about life and how the world works. This is awesome!
Brandyn - how to live on my own
David - how to live on my own; how to be independent; being responsible and being professional and getting a job.
Andrew - I learned to not stand around. I got a loitering ticket. I also learned that it's important to choose the right doctor You need to check which doctors are in network.
Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at www.shepherdscollege.edu.