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Herriman Journal

Budgeting simulation yields dividends for students at two schools

Nov 01, 2022 07:39PM ● By Jet Burnham

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Young adulthood is full of tough financial lessons, including how to live on a budget and how to avoid scams. These lessons are even more challenging for young adults with developmental disabilities to master.

“A lot of our students are at a very young developmental age in their minds so they're very trusting, and they're easily made to do things that you wouldn't regularly do,” said Eric Slaymaker, a transition teacher at South Valley School, which provides post-high school transition training for 18-21 year olds with disabilities.

Students have weekly lessons about finances and budgeting. Slaymaker said repetition is important for his students to gain the skills they need to live independently, which is the goal at graduation.

Herriman High School business students Katelyn and Elizabeth Anderson have tried to share what they’ve learned about finance with their 20-year-old brother who is developmentally delayed and was recently scammed out of hundreds of dollars.

“He's had a lot of problems managing his money and spending it wisely,” Katelyn said.

For a school project, the Andersons decided to team up with fellow business student Emily Reinoso to develop a budgeting lesson plan which they shared with students at SVS, where their brother attends school. Their lesson included an explanation of the envelope method for budgeting and an activity to practice spending money within a budget. They organized other HHS business students to assist SVS students as they rotated through stations representing a grocery store, cell phone company, real estate office, sporting goods store and credit union to practice making financial decisions.

Actual employees from Harmons Neighborhood Grocer, Cyprus Credit Union, and Zander Real Estate Team were invited to participate in the simulation to make it a more realistic experience for the students.

“We wanted real people to come so it was a real environment, having adults rather than students,” Katelyn said. “We’re all younger than the students that attend the school so we wanted people older than them to give them that experience.”

Cyprus Credit Union representative Wendy Buckner was glad to be involved in the simulation, which lines up with the company’s values on financial education for young people.

“We just want them to learn about money, the younger the better,” Buckner said.

Some business representatives brought products for students to purchase during their transaction; Harmons had candy for sale and Scheels sold small items such as keychains.

            Slaymaker said the simulation was good practice for his students, who responded well to the social interaction of the lesson as well as to the students teaching the lesson, some of whom they attended high school with.

            Elizabeth said, unlike her high school friends, these young adults are already working and paying rent, trying to live on a tight budget.

“It's a lot harder for them to get the jobs that will pay well,” she said. “With less money, you need to budget much more because you need to save and to work with the money you have.”

About 60 SVS students participated in the lesson and activity. HHS business teacher Rickee Stewart was impressed when Elizabeth, Katelyn and Emily were able to improvise when the set-up of the classrooms was different than they anticipated. She said they also adeptly adapted their memorized speech to a more personalized approach to better connect with the varying abilities of the students they were teaching.

The three girls will write a 20-page report detailing their “Beyond Budgeting” project, analyzing how it went and describing what they learned from the experience. They will present this report at the competitions for two high school business club organizations, FBLA and DECA. Katelyn and Emily have competed at state and national competitions with previous business projects and hope to qualify again this year. It will be Elizabeth’s first year competing, but she said she gained confidence through this experience and is hopeful of performing well at the competitions.

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