Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Dollar Decisions | 'Big Bank Theory' Schools Students in Financial Literacy

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Dollar Decisions | 'Big Bank Theory' Schools Students in Financial Literacy

Article excerpt


MANATEE COUNTY -- To make ends meet for the next month, two Braden River High School students decided to get married on the spot, others became roommates to share expenses, and some felt thankful for their education, which gave them high-paying jobs.

As part of the Big Bank Theory exercise offered to high school seniors by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, the students learned about responsibilities they will have in a few years.

"You are a 25-year-old adult and paying for things that adults have to pay for every single month," Jahna

Leinhauser, chamber vice president of community development, told the students this week.

Students were given random profiles listing their job, education, income, marital status and whether or not they had children. Quickly, they found out single parents with low-paying jobs needed to scramble to find enough money to eat and pay bills, essentials like child care, insurance, groceries, rent and transportation. What was left, if anything, needed to go into a savings account or 401K.

"It is quite surprising to them to figure out what life involves," said Mario Bernardis, a retired IBM bank executive from New York, one of nearly 200 volunteers working at the sessions at seven schools.

An electrical engineer with a working spouse and no children, for example, had $4,786 monthly income available after taxes. Compare that to a single delivery route driver with two toddlers and a high school education trying to live on $1,206 a month.

"I told my mom it was a wake-up call for the future," student Christion Black said.

Black was dealt a fortunate scenario: married sales manager earning $55,000 a year with no children. He said he saved money by not buying the most expensive items. He also put money in savings. He ended up with $650 left over for the month.

"It's a future I would like to have," said Black, who wants to attend college to become a registered nurse.

Classmate Jameson Pierre, working with a high school graduate's sales job income of $30,720, was frugal with his money, choosing to buy a motorcycle instead of a car. He had $721 left over. …

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