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Win or Lose

In "Real Life" It's How You Play the Game

Real life throws you curve balls. Some of the most challenging are financial. Even with age and experience, adults can quickly find themselves in jeopardy. So it’s not a surprise teens, who are inexperienced and unaccustomed to making decisions with long-term consequences, are especially vulnerable.

Unfortunately, most teens have little financial instruction or experiences to help them form a strategic financial game plan. That can have catastrophic impact on recovering from debt or financial burdens as an adult.

Students at high schools in Pennsylvania are learning ways to get ahead of the game by playing Real Life.

Team competitions make Real Life scenarios fun

Real Life helps students understand the importance of the financial decisions key to future success. It is presented by Junior Achievement (JA) of South Central Pennsylvania and led by local business people.

Through games modeled after those they know and love, teens play Financial Jenga, The Price is Wrong, Real Life, and Insurance Jeopardy. They also participate in a Budget Builder activity as a part of the daylong Real Life experience.

Real Life provides high school seniors with a glimpse of the financial decisions they will soon be making as young adults,“ said Tom Russell, President of the Junior Achievement of South Central Pennsylvania. “It’s also a fun way for students to begin a conversation about insurance which plays an important role in those decisions.”

The popular Insurance Jeopardy component is similar to the game show. It is a team-based competition intended to help students understand basic insurance concepts.

Insurance Jeopardy was really fun and a big learning experience. It helped me to learn about insurance policies and terms that I’d heard but never understood,” said one Central York High School student.

Game co-hosts Steve Horning and Trish Howser, real-life State Farm agents, helped students learn about discounts and policy limits, but they also learned from the students.

“It was fun to see them engage in real life decisions and realize that insurance impacts everyone’s life, young and old. The students were very interested in how not having the proper insurance can hurt them and their family and were truly concerned about the choices they will be making beyond high school,” Howser said.

Play to win

Private and public classroom partnerships can strengthen students’ financial confidence. However, failing to plan weakens even the best financial advice. Financially smart students do plan and do make good decisions – and they retain and share that knowledge.

The principal at Central Dauphin High School shared with Junior Achievement an email received from a parent after a Real Life session:

“The seminar the school held for the students last week regarding finances was amazingly eye opening for Haley and her friends. I truly hope that CDHS continues to provide this for the students going forward (I have a 7th grader this year and would love her to be exposed to this as well).

Haley learned so much. She now has a better understanding of the reality of life, money, jobs, income, prices of products, utilities, etc. We spoke in depth that night and the sweet child expressed how much she respected me for being able to be a single mom and make everything come together.

Haley said, “I am never moving out! I won’t be able to afford anything. It really helped to understand why College is a MUST!“

Risk is part of the game of life

As these young adults go out into the “real world,” the skills they learned through Real Life will help them become financially savvy adults. They will think twice before purchasing new iPods, laptops or cars. Those new experiences and new purchases will come with new risks that require a financial and insurance plan.

These students are prepared to play. After all, in the real game of life, no one wants to be in jeopardy.

State Farm supports Junior Achievement on the national and local levels through philanthropic outreach and volunteerism. In addition to Real Life, agent and employee support of JA programs like Finance Park and BizTown earned the company the Bronze Level U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Award for contributing over 5,000 service hours annually.

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