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TMCNet:  Students learn to budget in the 'real world' in Pascagoula

[January 18, 2013]

Students learn to budget in the 'real world' in Pascagoula

PASCAGOULA, Jan 18, 2013 (The Sun Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Students from Pascagoula and Gautier high schools learned some real-world budgeting skills Thursday morning at the Family Interactive Center in Pascagoula.

The program was put on by the Mississippi State University Extension Service and volunteers from Regions Bank.

Each student was randomly assigned a career, salary, marital status and number of children. They were then prompted to visit the 13 stations and decide how to spend their money on different "real world" essentials -- groceries, housing, insurance, transportation, utilities, bank, child care, clothing/toiletries, communications, contributions, entertainment, furniture, and two optional tables.

At one optional table, labeled Crystal Ball, a student could receive a gift card or an unexpected bill. At the other, labeled S.O.S., students could get help if they got into difficulty in budgeting their expenses. The representative at the table would either advise them to go re-evaluate a purchase or offer discounts.

The incomes were made more realistic by having taxes taken out.

MSU Extension Service Jackson County 4-H agent Evelyn DeAngelo said the goal is to help students understand before they graduate how much the real world costs.

"I think (real-world knowledge) is lacking in teens and even in the generation above today," she said. "We're trying to relate incomes to education levels in order to encourage them to continue to pursue more education." Pascagoula senior Shannon Williamson said she already knows to choose the lowest prices.

"My mom delivers newspapers for a living," she said. "So I get it." Williamson said she does much of the shopping for her mother, and has her own bank account and a job to pay for personal items such as makeup.

"Makeup is expensive, but I buy the cheapest I can find and have learned to make it look good," she said.

Pascagoula senior Taylor Sossaman was given the career of librarian, which translated to a lower income. She ended up visiting the S.O.S. table.

"It really opens your eyes," she said.

Gautier High Assistant Principal David Maxwell said, "I think this is the best thing we do for our students. I wish more kids could be exposed to it." ___ (c)2013 The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.) Visit The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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