The League of Women Voters were at the Reality Store Monday. Pictured back row, left to right, David Maharry, Ginny Maharry, David Long and Nancy Bennett. Frotn row left to right, Gail Pebworth, Dian Moore.
The League of Women Voters were at the Reality Store Monday. Pictured back row, left to right, David Maharry, Ginny Maharry, David Long and Nancy Bennett. Frotn row left to right, Gail Pebworth, Dian Moore.
The enthusiasm was electrifying as busloads of students from Southmont Junior High, Crawfordsville Middle School and Northridge Middle School arrived at the Crawfordsville Girls and Boys Clubs on Monday morning for an interactive seminar titled “The Reality Store®.”
In many families, financial matters are not discussed with children. Parents feel that young people should not be burdened with these dreary, often frustrating, facts of life. Parents think that their children will have to start worrying about insurance rates and mortgage payments soon enough. In some ways, this may be true. However, frank discussions about money can be a way to help young people realistically plan for their future. A teen that has never paid an insurance premium or written a check for the rent may expect to live well on earnings from a job paying minimum wage. Someone better versed in the cost of living is less likely to be so naive and more likely to start planning realistically.
The local chapter of the Business and Professional Women’s Clubs presented an interactive workshop titled The Reality Store®. The workshop is designed to help young people between the ages of 14 and 20 in making critical decisions that affect the course of their whole lives; decisions about educational paths, career options, life knowledge and a sophisticated attitude about the realities of the options that are their futures. At The Reality Store®, students are able to select an occupation they would like to have as an adult. They are then given a checking account ledger containing the amount equivalent to the average monthly salary in that occupation. The students then enter The Reality Store® where they spent their salary on the necessities and luxuries they envision as part of their adult lifestyle. This exercise helps students learn whether their selected occupation will provide the financial resources needed to provide the type of lifestyle they want.
After picking up a clipboard and calculator to keep track of their transactions, learning to vote was first on the agenda. The League of Women Voters taught students how to find their voting district, how to register and then allowed them to vote in a mock election.
Entering the gymnasium, each student was given a checking account with a set amount of money, depending on which occupation they chose to follow. Going from station to station, students learned to spend their salary on housing, utilities, groceries, insurance and transportation, to name a few. Stations for medical and dental and those all important taxes were, also, included. Students wanting to expand their income visited a “second job” station to learn ways of increasing their money and how much time a second job would encroach on their chosen life style. The cost of keeping and maintaining a pet was not forgotten. There was, even, a station called “the fickle finger of fate” whereby students learned about those little unexpected realities that often “come out of left field.” Spinning a “wheel of fortune,” students got to choose a slip from the number the wheel stopped on. It could be an increase in income, an inheritance or it might be an unexpected expense; a real dose of reality.

Chattering happily as they re-boarded their busses, students used their new found knowledge to compare their career choices, incomes and lifestyles. One student boasted, “I came out almost $2,000 ahead,” while another remarked, “At least I broke even.”