Putnam County students get a life lesson in spending

PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Most eighth-graders are familiar with the Game of Life board game but, when it comes to managing actual life budgets, not so much.

Students in Putnam County, West Virginia, carefully make life decisions that won't kill their fictional budget.

Tuesday at the "Get a Life" activity, they got the chance to have fictional jobs, as well as to deal with real-life expenses like car and house payments.

"Money runs out really quick. It's really surprising how fast your money will leave," said Landon Hayes, a student at Hurricane Middle School.

While students are traveling around the room, they try their best to avoid the Grim Reaper. The reaper comes around and hands them a card with an unfortunate situation that would cost money. Students often start out with minimum-wage jobs, and after trying to attain basic needs and being hit with the Grim Reaper, they usually go bankrupt.

The activity is not just about losing and spending money. After going bankrupt, students have the opportunity to get higher education -- via a technical school or university. Teachers say this can prepare students to incorporate higher education in their futures, after seeing the financial impact it can make.

"Have the kids research their career that they are interested in at this point in their lives see not only what kind of schooling is necessary or training is necessary but also what their income is going to possibly be," said Terri Myers, who is a teacher.

After education, their salary goes up and they can stretch their money further. And after watching the students theoretically live from paycheck to paycheck, it's clear they have a new appreciation for their parents who sometimes do it every month.

"Like you never think like how stressful it's going to be thinking like where's the money going to go,and like living paycheck to paycheck, so yeah it makes me have more appreciation for them and all of the things they do and buy for us," Hayes said.

This event is put on by the treasurer's office and is in its 12th year. State Treasurer John Perdue says participating in activities like this can help students avoid debt when they hit the real world.