Dollars and Sense program helps Baker students learn to budget

Published 3:00 pm Tuesday, April 4, 2023

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Understanding the importance of a budget is a learned skill that even many adults could benefit from.

At Baker Intermediate School on Thursday, there were plenty of opportunities for students to gain experience.

Set up in association with the Kentucky 4-H Youth Program, students received a simulated environment in which they gained first-hand knowledge of economics by shopping for goods with a predetermined budget.

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“The program is actually through 4-H and the Dollars and Sense Program,” said Allison Dale, a counselor at Baker Intermediate School, who helped coordinate the event. “The goal is for them to really think about money management, how much things cost, and [determine] if it’s a need or isn’t it.”

A scenario was set up in which students receive $200.

After $20 was withdrawn to pay taxes, students decided how they wanted to spend the remaining $180.

However, each student also had a pet, perhaps a fish, a horse or another animal.

As a result, this necessitated spending some money on care, thus forcing students to consider their budget even more thoroughly.

Students had fourteen different stations to visit: a department store, bedroom decor, transportation, contributions, veterinarians, candy store, entertainment, bank, toy store, health and grooming, pet store, fast food, SOS, and chance.

Carolyn Burtner and Mason Wills ran the health and grooming table, offering haircuts, hairstyle products and braids.

“They kind of laugh about it on the first hand, and then they say, ‘Well, I really might need a haircut,’ or ‘I want to make sure that I keep my hair clean’,” said Burtner. “I’ve been doing this for several years. I think it’s a great way for youngsters to learn how to budget money, how to spend wisely, and if they overspend, that they might have to return something.”

At the chance station, individuals could gain or lose money.

Though somewhat of a risk, several students took advantage.

“The first thing I went [to] was chance, and then got $10 right off the bat”, said student Coltin Duncan.

Asked what he learned the most, student Jaden Stamper responded: “You don’t always have to spend a lot of money to get what you need.”

For Madelyn Hale, Clark County Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development, the activity is similar to the Reality Store undertaken by Robert D. Campbell Junior High School.

“This one is more [about] decisions that they would be making at their age right now,” she said. “This kind of leads up to the Reality Store program, but the booths here are just things that the kids might actually want.”

For example, one student purchased a bike lock since he often bikes to school.

For Baker Intermediate School Principal Josh Mounts, it represented an opportunity to cover a subject that is sometimes left out all too easily.

“When you’re talking finances, there’s not a lot of courses, and there’s not a lot of curriculum,” Mounts said. “They graduate. Some go to a trade, some go to the workforce, some go to college you hope that [they] know how to use their money. I think any kind of financial literacy or curriculum or experiences that we can give kids [is] all the better.”