‘The value of a dollar’

More than 200 Rocky River High students got a taste of reality when they took part in a financial literacy program presented by the State Employees' Credit Union Nov. 8.

This is the second year the school has presented the program, called "The Reality of Money." About 60 volunteers assisted in the simulation, which assigns each student details such as occupation, salary, number of children and debt. Students visit 12 stations representing monthly expenses, such as transportation and housing, and make financial decisions that will allow them to live within their means.

The program exposes students to several financial learning points, said Joshua Lee, SECU senior financial officer. They learn the value of furthering their education after high school, the limiting effect bad credit has on lifestyle choices and how living within their means allows them to save for their financial future.

"We are giving students the tools they need and giving them a small glimpse of being an adult," Lee said. "While The Reality of Money is not the total lesson for financial education, it gets the conversation started."

The program was an eye-opening experience for some students. Junior Orlando Perez shook his head as he looked at the budget he created and saw how the small things add up.

"The necessities really outweigh the wants," he said. "I had to go way down on entertainment and even things like clothes so I could afford necessities."

Elijah Pemberton, also a junior, said he already has a job and pays for some things, but he is learning about other bills he'll face in the future.

"This teaches you how to manage money and it prepares you for the real world," Elijah said.

SECU mortgage officer Ingland Ashe said the program really resonates with students, especially when they realize the financial choices their parents must make.

"One told me that they don't ask their parents for things like they used to," Ashe said. "They still ask but they ask sparingly. Now they know the value of a dollar."