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Reality Store

Date: November 17, 2011
Place: Alexandria, VA
Interview: Jennifer Abel, Virginia Cooperative Extension and students from Francis C. Hammond Middle School

Jennifer Abel, Senior Extension Agent:
Reality Store is a program that helps to teach teenagers about real world expenses. And the way that it works is that each student gets a hypothetical family situation which tells them how old they are, whether or not they're married, whether or not they have kids, and what kind of a job they have and what kind of an income they have.

I was married and I had two kids.

I was a junior graphic designer. I was married and I had one two-year-old son.

I was married. I had a 2-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son.

And then they have to visit a series of stations: housing, groceries, entertainment, chance, clothing, transportation. So they visit those stations and they have to make decisions about how they are going to spend their money.

I was able to save around $200.

And the goal is for them to take care of the needs of their family without running out of money.

The person at the table was like "One person came up to me with like $27 and was like 'I don't know how I'm supposed to feed my kid.' And he's like ' I can tell you what you're gonna do, you're gonna go back and you're gonna return that plasma TV.' "

We want them to realize how important it is to plan. We want them to see what effect education has on their earning potential, because the jobs with college education pay better than the ones that don't. All of the family situations have children, so we want them to see how expensive that is.

I had $1500 in childcare.

How the cost of child care and having to pay for clothing and needing to get a bigger apartment because you have children, how those costs are so high.

Kids.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal for kids