Generation Z gained essential financial knowledge on working with a monthly budget through Junior Chamber International of Santa Clarita’s event, “Get Real: Adulting 101,” on Saturday.
JCI Santa Clarita is an organization focused on building community partners and building young community leaders to create positive change within the community.
High school students were invited to the Santa Clarita Sports Complex to learn more about the financial demands that life has.
“The main takeaway is for them to do two things,” said event coordinator Kari McCoy. “One is to have kind of an awakening about what it costs for a monthly budget, once they become adults and are more financially independent. The second is to think more critically than they are about finances, and about choices that they make.”
Every participant got to essentially play a real-life version of The Game of Life.
After being asked if they would like to do the college route or no college route, each participant was handed a clipboard with a role assigned to them. This role included their job, set income, their marital status and the number of children they have. Participants had to work with what they had to set up an ideal budget and end with money in the bank.
Many learned very quickly the financial demands of just what their role entailed.
“It is pretty hard maintaining your budget and once you have kids and you’re married. I’s just doubled,” said participant Julio Orellana.
At the event, local businesses set up booths to represent the industry for which financial category they were representing. These categories included necessities such as housing, entertainment, child care, health and wellness, food and school.
However, just to replicate exactly what life entails, each booth provided much temptation for the participants to make some financially bad decisions. This was done to show the participants just how easy it can be to fall into financial traps.
“I didn’t realize how aggressive marketing schemes were,” said participant Ashbi Riverra.
Volunteers also walked around handing out random “reality checks” to participants that entailed more financial burdens, or possibly blessings.
“These are random situations like, ‘You have a gas-powered vehicle and your smog check is due,’” said McCoy. “Or we have a, ‘You have a family member that passed away and you had to take a week off of work, you lose $400,’ or we have, ‘You get a COVID stimulus package and you got $600.’”
McCoy said that observing the event was really interesting in the sense that participants’ emotions were constantly shifting between empowerment and anger.
When participants made mistakes, they asked McCoy if they could alter their budget.
“You have the choice to make other choices because in real life, you’re not stuck with that,” said McCoy. “You can make better financial decisions and continue to improve.”
JCI Santa Clarita’s goal resonated with many of the participants and left them with something to remember.
“How to manage money,” said participant Evan Betty in relation to what he had learned from the event.
At the end, all participants were entered into a drawing for the grand prize, a $500 grant.