HVA’s ‘My Amazing Life’ teaches life’s lessons

Hardin Valley Academy’s juniors discovered life is expensive and hard after participating in My Amazing Life.

The event, which took place in the school’s gymnasium on Thursday, April 7, is designed to help students learn about careers and how to manage money, Jill Peterson, My Amazing Life chairwoman, said.

“There is a lot more than I expected,” Morgan James, HVA junior, said. “Life is expensive.” James went through the event as a mother of two and a psychiatrist.

“I learned it costs a lot of money to live nicely,” Dominique Rios, a junior, said.

“It’s not so much a career day as it is a game,” Peterson said. It is a combination of the TV show, “Amazing Race” and The Game of Life.

“It is an event Hardin Valley Academy holds each year for all juniors,” Peterson said. “We have 500 students this year.

“Sponsors hosted a table that demonstrated how their businesses could be used in ways that help students make informed financial and life choices as adults.”

“This is an awesome program,” Ellen Lloyd, an organizing committee member, said. “The students have to make decisions like ‘Do we have enough to go to the movies or put away for retirement?’ That’s an amazing transformation.”

Students chose a career and created a budget, using information they received at each table. To start the process, they are given a plastic egg, inside of which has the number of children each student hypothetically will have as he or she plays My Amazing Life.

“They start by determining a family — spouses, children,” Peterson said. “They have to keep track of all the ages of their children through the game.”

Participants went from table to table and talked to representatives of businesses in the area about the cost of living to create a budget, keeping their hypothetical family in mind. For example, one table had a bank representative while others had insurance agents, health occupation specialists and financial advisors to help them know how to save money toward retirement.

Students also stopped at tables to determine income tax, utilities costs, vacations, pets, medical bills and more. They learned how much it costs to buy or rent a home, a car and attend college, pay for child care and pay for groceries and eating out.

Sponsors showed their support for he program with donations of time, goods and membership, Peterson said.

By the end of the game, students learned how much they have left for retirement and had a retirement party, she said.

Kendyl Reeves, who played the game as a lawyer and mother of three, saved $200 a month, giving her $603,000 toward retirement.

“I learned living is a lot more expensive than I thought,” Kendyl said. “I didn’t know I needed all that investment.”

“I had $200,000 left for retirement, which wasn’t bad,” junior Dustin Bass, a junior who played as a business operations specialist, said.

“I learned money adds up,” Dustin said. “I had to spend every penny wisely.”