March 20, 2023 at 1:44 p.m.

'Mad Money' simulation offers lesson in managing personal finances

'Mad Money' simulation offers lesson in managing personal finances
'Mad Money' simulation offers lesson in managing personal finances

By Renee Draskiewicz-

The annual "Mad Money" simulation has become a rite of passage for Rhinelander High School sophomores. It's an opportunity for teenage students to begin to understand what awaits them in terms of managing their personal finances.

This year's event, held March 7, was hosted by Rhinelander Partners in Education (PIE). Students from the Northland Pines and Three Lakes school districts joined the Rhinelander sophomores for the "real world" simulation.

Numerous local businesses came together to create real-life scenarios for the students.

Rhinelander GM/Toyota, the YMCA of the Northwoods and Nicolet National Bank were some of the businesses that sent representatives to help the students understand the challenges of budgeting.

"Mad Money" begins with the students being assigned a career. Some are also given a fictional spouse and children. From there begins the game of life and the daunting task of balancing a budget to get the things they need, discover what they have left over for extra wants and how to make more effective savings decisions.

"I sold many high mileage Toyota Camrys," Tarsie Goes of Rhinelander GM/Toyota said of the simulation. "The cost of new vehicles shocked them."

Shocking students even more was a visit to Abbie Cline, school-age childcare director at the YMCA of the Northwoods, who shared with them the average cost of daycare for children of all ages.

At the beginning of the simulation there were many ideas about how far a paycheck will stretch, but by the end of the day students came to a new understanding as to the complexities of making ends meet.

Members of local law enforcement also participated in the simulation, handing out citation cards to the students. The citation cards can have a positive or negative impact on the student's assigned career and family situation.

The group also listened to Greg Giles, a motivational speaker from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Foundation, who gave them an idea of what it would be like to be in interviewed for a job.

Mock job interviews were also took place.

District community education coordinator Mike Cheslock said the simulation was valuable.

"The Mad Money experience is very important for high school students. It helps prepare them for the real world. In particular, the financial simulation helps them understand the importance of budgeting as it relates to the expenses and challenges they will face as adults," he said. "The mock interview, Junior Achievement, and guest speaker activities are also tremendously valuable experiences for students as they begin planning for lives after high school."

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