Youngsters Learn the Highs and Lows of Budgeting Money
Aug 30, 2018 06:00AM ● Published by Marjorie Turner Hollman
Library Director Bernadette Rivard, Senior Youth Services Librarian Steve Fowler, and Library Assistant for Youth Services Diane Nelson teamed up to host Millionaire Camp for two days in early August at the Bellingham Library.
Five boys and four girls signed up, and soon the “campers” were in the thick of things, learning about paying monthly bills and paying yourself first, to be sure money is set aside for emergencies.
And yes, emergencies do come up in this program, a game developed by Creative Wealth International. The materials for the event were purchased with funds provided through the LSTA “Financial Fitness for Everyone” grant program.
“We were looking for a way to have a summer program for the kids that would teach financial literacy but not have them sitting at a desk just listening to someone or doing worksheets,” Rivard explained. “We liked that this program was physical, involved moving around the room, as well as teaching great money lessons.”
While the game started off simply, the stakes soon got higher as the campers were challenged to consider investing money to get more return on their savings. They were tempted with spending money on “piddly stuff” (with a bag marked, appropriately, “piddly stuff”), which they dutifully avoided, at least at first. But as the months progressed (each new round of the game was another month, with another paycheck and requisite bills to pay), the challenges became more complex.
At first those who risked investing received astonishing returns. But, as in real life, the downturn in the stock market hit some of the campers harder than others. Later, “life events” happened, just as in—wait for it—real life. Car accidents put a dent in their budget, but thankfully, they had all paid up their insurance so were minimally affected. But when pipes burst, it was another matter.
By the end of the game, participants had ended up with a wide range of money in their accounts. They had experienced the joys and frustrations of keeping track of money, balancing checkbooks, and looking ahead to try to prepare for life events, which, as we know, happen to everyone. It was all play money, but the stakes were serious, and those who attended stayed engaged, asked questions and looked for help when their books didn’t balance. Just like in real life.