BWHS counselor Kit Smestad and Supt. Eric Russell have worked together on the Reality Store for several years and know it is a good teaching tool for the students. Photo by Paul J. Seeling
BWHS counselor Kit Smestad and Supt. Eric Russell have worked together on the Reality Store for several years and know it is a good teaching tool for the students. Photo by Paul J. Seeling

Submitted by Eric Russell, Superintendent of Schools, Baldwin-Woodville Area School District

BALDWIN, WI – The Baldwin-Woodville High School hosted its 8th annual Reality Store on Wednesday, March 1 from Noon to 3pm.

The Reality Store is like the game of life for Baldwin-Woodville juniors. The Reality Store is a financial simulation where high school students choose careers and make decisions about their budgets and lifestyles. The activity is a fun and effective way for students to learn about personal accounting, financial responsibility, and life choices. 

The Reality Store also allows students to interact with local business people. Students had to use their monthly wage for their career of choice to complete a monthly budget. They had to find housing, buy a car, get insurance, and pay for groceries along with everything else from a typical household budget.

The Reality Store bridges the gap between education and real life. Students make decisions regarding education, career, family, housing, financial, health and fitness, community involvement, and personal goals. Each student is randomly assigned a marital status as well as whether or not they have children. If divorced, they either have custody or not and perhaps child support as income or as an expense. Students must make all essential purchases/payments and end up with a positive cash balance in their checkbook before they can leave the event.

Students start the event in the classroom getting their packet and gross pay. Once taxes have been deducted and their balance is determined, students may enter the gym and proceed to the bank for a checkbook.   

In order for students to successfully complete the Reality Store, a student must get signed off at each booth and have a balance in their checkbook between $0 and $200. If a student has more than $200, they may simply write a check to their savings at the bank. If a student is below $0, they must look for ways to save money.

Students may save money by purchasing a cheaper car or house, by completing the roommate quiz and getting a roommate, getting a part time job, etc. Students should report to the bank at the halfway point and they must report to the bank at the end to checkout.

One of the strengths of this event is the interaction with all the local business people. Thank you to all the great volunteers for this event.