Long Academy student Jheysson Menendez imagined what his life would be like if he was a mail clerk with an annual salary just over $29,000.
“I have to cut back on my phone and cable bill,” Menendez said while making a budget during a financial literacy session Wednesday at the Junior Achievement Finance Park, an interactive community with business models created to teach students about career readiness, entrepreneurship, and money management.
Students were given real-life scenarios that consisted of a job, family, and home during the session, which was part of the Futures Academy Enrichment Week held Monday through Wednesday for rising 10th graders interested in applying for the academy. The academy offers students the opportunity to receive college credit, career training and industry credentials to provide them with options for a promising future after high school.
“I don’t think (the students) have an idea of how much things really cost and how many expenses adults are responsible for on a monthly basis,” said Mike Ritch, a Futures Academy Coordinator at Furr High School. “In this activity, there are students making $35,000, sitting across from a student making $70,000. This activity is helping them to understand that they can attain a better quality of life based on the education they receive, the career they pursue, and the salary they earn.”
Kashmere High School student Brya Curtis was one of 33 students at the session who received a life scenario with a high-paying job around $70,000. Her life scenario card says she is a 25-year-old marketing manager with one child.
“In my budget, I spent the most on housing because I own a home, but I still have enough for entertainment,” Curtis said. “This is teaching me how to manage money and why it’s important to have basic math skills, things I’ll need to know when I go to college.”
Students were also given stocks and told to select a car that their entire family can fit into.
“Everyone’s dreaming of having a Ferrari,” said Angel Cordero, a program manager with Junior Achievement. “But even if you make a lot of money, you may not be able to afford a luxury car because you have to prioritize how your money is spent, especially if you have a family.”
Saving money and prioritizing expenses is a lesson that Long student Gissell Garcia took away from the activity. “This has taught me how to make smart choices with money and to not spend a lot on things I don’t really need.”