Field Trip to Finance Park Teaches Budgeting Skills

Junior Achievement of Greater Washington

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In early November, eighth grade students at Robinson traveled to Robert Frost Middle School for a field trip to Finance Park. It is located in the rear of the school, and it’s very unique. Students walked around the park with a tablet, budgeting and ‘buying’ the things they needed for their given life situation.

For the three weeks prior to the field trip, students prepared by completing the JA Finance Park booklet. They learned what taxes are, how to find out how much you owe per month, and how much gets deducted from your gross monthly income. Students were educated on how to budget their given amount of money and what things a person needs and doesn’t need to spend money on. After completing the booklets, students were prepared to go to the Finance Park for their simulation

“It was fun to walk around with my friends around the park and budget my money,” said Lexi N.

Grocery shopping took place at CVS.

Grocery shopping took place at CVS.

When eighth graders arrived at the miniature park, they watched a quick presentation that explained what they would be doing. Then, they were called to the stage in their groups, received their tablets, and went to their assigned ‘shop’. Once they got to their stations, they met their chaperones and began the simulation.

To begin, the students logged onto their tablets. They took a survey and were given their life situations. Their situations included their monthly and yearly incomes (with tax deductions), spouse and/or children, and what job they had.

“I had fun learning about budgeting with my friends,” said Grace M.

Next, they walked to each store and got the codes to register in order to spend money there. They shopped at places such as Apple Federal Credit Union (banking), Cox Home and Life (cable, internet, and phone), Goodwill (clothes), CVS (groceries), Chick-Fil-A (dining out), etc. They would budget their money for certain things they would need.

Students had to decide if they had enough room in their budgets to eat out at Chick-fil-A.

Students had to decide if they had enough room in their budgets to eat out at Chick-fil-A.

After receiving the codes, they went back to their stations to divide and budget their money. They were given about thirty minutes to finish budgeting. Students chose how much money they wanted to be able to spend on their necessities.

After budgeting, students received debit cards. They walked around to certain stores to pay their bills. If they did not have to pay ‘in person’, they would pay on their tablets.

“It was fun to feel like an adult,” said Camila N.

Once they were done paying, they turned in their tablets and headed back to school, now knowing part of what it’s like to be an adult. Students came back to school, and the next time they had civics, they were to discuss their time at the park.