Real Money. Real World. Held in Alexander County Schools

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en Español / em Português

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Teaching youth about financial management is becoming increasingly important especially since this generation is predicted to face higher levels of debt than their parents. Unfortunately, many of this age group have yet to receive financial guidance. A study from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development in 2015 showed that of the 15-year-olds surveyed in the United States, 18% of respondents did not learn financial skills that are often applied to everyday situations, such as building a simple budget, comparison shopping, and understanding an invoice. According to the very same study from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development in 2015, there is a clear gap in financial literacy scores based on the percentage of students in a given school who receive free and reduced-price lunch and that those who receive free and reduced-price lunches tend to have lower financial literacy scores.

One of the biggest surprises to participants was the cost of child care. One youth, who came into the simulation with only an $1800 monthly salary and two children, was discouraged to discover at the child care booth that daycare for his two children would be over $880. Volunteers at the Financial Assistance booth assisted him in getting a second part-time job after he discovered that “giving his children back” was not an option. Many had a newfound respect for their parents and what they deal with on a daily basis. At the end of the experience, student comments included, “Kids are expensive,” “I need to stay in school and graduate in order to get a better job later,” “Life is a whole lot harder than I thought,” and “I need to get the important stuff out of the way first.”

Special thanks to all the community partners involved, and to the sponsors who helped bring this needed program to the middle school students in Alexander County.

If you would like more information about Real Money. Real World. program, please contact Der Holcomb at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Alexander County Center at 828-632-3125 or

image of Der Holcomb, Family and Consumer Science Agent, instructing students through the Real Money. Real World. simulation