CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - It's a lesson that can last a lifetime. Some Iowa High School students got a hands-on lesson in how to balance a budget Friday, as part of Calcasieu Parish's Career-Bound Curriculum.
Learning how to balance a budget isn't easy, especially as a teenager, but students from Iowa High School learned about financial literacy, thanks to the Junior Achievement program.
"It's those students enrolled in journey to careers, and this is a class that is required for those not tracking to college," said Meg Lovejoy, the District Director of Junior Achievement SWLA.
She added, "A lot of times students don't really have a clue what it's going to be like for them as they get older and have to raise children, and it's tough at times... this just gives them a little eye-opener to that."
The program is free, thanks to sponsors and volunteers, and is open to students in grades 8 through 12.
The four-hour field trip begins with students receiving a fake identity, which tells them their age, salary, whether they're married or have kids.
While assuming that identity, students then have to learn how to pay bills on an earned income, making sure they keep a balanced budget.
"There's lots of math that they do. The volunteers that are with them are guiding them through all the steps," explained Lovejoy.
Depending on their fake salary, students learn they can't buy everything they want, forcing them to prioritize needs over wants.
And after worksheets are balanced, it's time to pay the bills.
Students then go around to the various kiosks, where each one represents a different bill or expense they need to pay.
Students say they enjoy learning skills they can use.
Destany Hutchins, a 9th grade student at Iowa High School says, "I've actually learned a lot coming here, seeing what you have to go through to budget everything."
"I used to be reckless with money, and this has very much helped me, because I actually can look through see what I bought, see how my spending is going, and see where my savings is at," added Caleb Jones, another 9th grader.
The Finance Park kiosks are brought in from Houston and take a few hours to setup. The program typically runs in January but was held today because of the winter storms.
For information on Junior Achievement: http://lakecharles.ja.org/.