Tippecanoe School Corporation
Junior Achievement Finance Park
Sue Scott

“Adulting for the day” is how many Southwestern Middle School students describe their experience at Junior Achievement Finance Park. During the simulation, students receive family scenarios, complete with a job, marital status and possibly children. They must create a family budget based on hypothetical life situations, income, existing savings and debt. Students visit park businesses to explore their options when shopping or their family’s needs, including clothing, groceries and childcare—without spending more than they earn.

Eighth grader Colby Anderson was assigned to be a nail technician with a wife and one child. Colby says the most challenging part of the exercise is how he got paid: “I was getting around $2,000 a month before tax, but after tax it was around $1,500.” 

Classmate Jorja Andrew, was assigned to be a single adult who worked at a laundromat. She agrees net income was a challenge: “Even though it was manageable, it was still hard to decide if I should get things that were more appealing or the items that were more affordable. I loved the fact that you got to decide what you spent your money on and it was almost as if you were an adult for the day.”

Student Maddy Heaston had the job of a microbiologist and single mother of one child. Although she had a decent income, budgeting was still a challenge. “It was good that I was single because I didn't have to buy two of everything (cars, insurance, etc), but it was a challenge because there was only one income,” Maddy says. “This simulation helped me realize how much everything costs.” 

“I think for the students the biggest ‘aha’ moment is realizing the overall cost of everyday expenses and they cannot just frivolously spend until their money is gone,” says Family and Consumer Science teacher Kelly McKee. “I also think they gain a deeper appreciation for their caregivers and have more empathy for the work they put into providing needs and wants.”   

The visit to the JA Finance Park follows several weeks of lessons in the classroom on career development, taxes and personal finance.

“Hosting field trips to JA Finance Park is so fun. The students come in with great energy, great questions, and leave with knowledge of what adults go through each month while managing their money,” says Junior Achievement Capstone Manager Resa Hodnett. “Our team loves partnering with teachers to provide a solution that includes an experiential learning portion (the field trip date) while still meeting their IDE core curriculum requirements.”

Students learn about making a budget


Southwestern students at Finance Park
SMS students work through scenario