HVA juniors learn life’s choices

Hardin Valley Academy juniors learned a lesson in the cost of life’s choices during the school’s annual My Amazing Life event.

The program, which took place in the school’s gymnasium Thursday, April 6, was set up like a game and designed to help students with decisions on careers and money management, said Jill Peterson in her second year as coordinator.

“I think one of the best experiences in high school is to have this event before graduation,” she said. “I think the students are more aware of what kind of career they want and the living expenses in the future, so they are already thinking ahead.

“They are already starting to change their minds about careers because they see how much they will spend in the future,” she added.

Junior Rachel Pooley said she learned “it’s important to save money and not go crazy.

“A little bit goes a long way,” she said. Pooley was left with $4,515 at the end of the month.

To begin, students decided on a career and researched, with volunteers’ help, how much money they would make.

“I hope to learn what I want to be when I grow up,” Sydney Blosser said.

Nine corporate sponsors supported My Amazing Life, Peterson said. As students entered the gym, each student found out if they would be married. They picked an egg out of a bowl to find out if they would have children and, if so, how many they would have.

Tables manned by parent and community volunteers were set up, and each student would stop at a table to find out expenses he or she would incur in life. For example, one table was set up for utilities, another for retirement investing and another for rent. There also were tables for pets, groceries, car and life insurance, buying a house, buying a car, dental care, childcare, dinners out and charitable donations.

“I hope it gives me the insight on real life,” Valeria Ramierez said as she started her trek from table to table.

At another table, students chose a card from a pile of cards that had windfalls or roadblocks, the unexpected expenses that constantly drain a checking account.

“This [roadblock] would be like when your teen driver has a wreck,” volunteer Sandra Rowcliffe said.

If a student ran out of money, he or she would have to stop at the second job table to add income, Peterson said.

“I learned how to budget my money and things in life are really expensive,” Blosser said. She was left with $2,324 at the end of the month.

“I learned you can still live comfortably as long as you are smart with your money,” said Jackson Penn, who was left with $2,735 at the end of the month. He was married with three kids and chose to be a financial manager. At the end of the game, he invested $200 a month for retirement.

“I wish I had done $500,” Penn said.

“The big hit of the day was how much they saved for retirement,” Peterson said. Students who saved for retirement were treated to cake at the end of the game and a few had a chance at the cash machine at the end of the event.