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Students practice real life budgeting with Reality Shop


STEVENS POINT, WI (WSAU) -  Wouldn’t it have been nice if you could practice earning a paycheck and budgeting for expenses and unexpected problems before you finished school? Many high school students in Portage County will do exactly that Tuesday.

Bill Christensen is with the Portage County Business Council Foundation, which helps put Reality Shop together. About 35 members of the business community volunteer to man the “shops” at SPASH.

He says about 375 high school students from around Portage County will be at Stevens Point Area Senior High School which is an exercise tied to their classroom preparation. “The way that they do that is part of a business experience that they’re having in their classrooms at school. They then have a career that produces a certain income and from that, they then come in and, in essence, shop for all of the necessities that we need to make purchase for on a monthly basis.”

He says the things students have to buy include housing, utilities, food, and also some of the surprises we all get out in the real world. “It might be something as simple as saying I need to go to a dental checkup and it cost me $40 with insurance and $100 if I don’t have insurance, or it might be something like they get a tax refund, or they might fall and break something and they have to see someone in Urgent Care, and that affects that monthly budget just like it does for all of us.”

Classroom work before Reality Shop prepares students for basic checkbook balancing, preparing a budget, and several other things students are likely to experience when they leave school. “It helps enhance the educational experience for our students, and also to help them to be better prepared to become participants in the business community and start generating their own income.”

SPASH, SPASH Alternative School, Amherst, and Rosholt students are participating. A couple of the area businesses are also donating lunch and beverages for the students.