Miller City-New Cleveland students Kylee Ricker (left) and Erika Meyer (center) listen intently to “Real Money. Real World.” volunteer Mike Klear about the type of transportation they can afford during the program’s spending simulation Thursday at Ottawa-Glandorf High School.(Putnam Sentinel/Mike Klear)
Miller City-New Cleveland students Kylee Ricker (left) and Erika Meyer (center) listen intently to “Real Money. Real World.” volunteer Mike Klear about the type of transportation they can afford during the program’s spending simulation Thursday at Ottawa-Glandorf High School.(Putnam Sentinel/Mike Klear)

OTTAWA — Students from every Putnam County high school are no fools to finance thanks to the April 1 fifth annual Putnam County Superior Financial Education Day hosted by Superior Federal Credit Union and Putnam County Ohio State University Extension. The event provided an informative and interactive financial education program from 9 a.m until 2 p.m. in the Ottawa-Glandorf High School gymnasium.

The “Real Money, Real World” program offered through the Putnam County OSU Extension Office allowed students to learn through hands-on experiences about costs of living on their own, making decisions and evaluating the consequences of their decisions.

“This is the second generation of ‘Real Money, Real World,’” said Jason Hedrick, OSU Extension County Director and Extension Educator. “It has been updated to include modern expenses, such as the Internet andmobile services. There is a much stronger emphasis on retirement than in the previous generation. We also integrated college debt into the sessions. Good jobs sometimes come at a price. The students need to realize this will be part of their budget, but should not dominate it.”

Students were assigned an occupation and family situation and then given a salary equivalent to the average monthly salary in their simulated occupation. They worked through the reality experience of opening a checking and savings account, making consumer decisions, paying bills, writing checks and balancing a checkbook.

“I’m broke!” exclaimed Ben Niese, a Miller City-New Cleveland junior, one of 400 students that participated in the event. “My job is a home health aide; I average $21,000 gross pay. That’s before taxes. It’s a heck of a lot more difficult than I thought. Twenty-one thousand dollars sounds like a lot, but I had to pay rent, I got a cavity, and I bought food. Plus, I have an eight-year-old, and my wife is in college. I’m dying, and I’m dying fast.”

These activities were done as students spent their salaries for the necessities and luxuries they envision as part of their adult lifestyle. They also paid taxes and saved for the future. Connor Kuhlman, an Ottawa-Glandorf junior, was having difficulty with his finances.

“I could hit the lottery or something,” said Kuhlman. “I took out a loan—$2,000—I’m rich!”

Teresa Johnson, Defiance County OSU Extension staff, worked with Kuhlman at the housing spending booth when he wanted to purchase his dream home.

“You can’t afford this!” she told him. “You weren’t truthful with your financial advisor. You’re a secretary. No offense, that’s a good job, but it’s not much money.”

Luke Schmersal, a home-school sophomore, was a little more successful at managing his money. “I have been saving money wherever I can so I can put it on my debt at the end. I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s pretty close to what I thought it would be.”

Dustin Rieman, a Pandora-Gilboa senior, appreciated the real world workshop. “It’s kind of difficult, but it’s a good experience. It shows me you must be cautious with your money, especially if you have kids.”