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San Jacinto students get real-life lesson in debt

By in Press Enterprise on December 2, 2017

By Craig Shultz

Cassandra Rodriguez learned how much food and clothing costs. Fabian Macias got a lesson about budgeting. Javier Cuevas found out how expensive it is to raise a child and Huriel Trejo found himself in debt.

The four were among 350 San Jacinto High School students who participated Thursday, Nov. 30, in a program called “Bite of Reality,” a hands-on simulation that gives teens a taste of real-world financial struggles.

During the exercise, each student was given a persona, including a job and salary and a family. Each also carried some debt from student loans or credit cards. They visited tables to “purchase” housing, transportation, food, clothing, household necessities, day care and entertainment.

“We don’t think that everything is so expensive,” said Macias, a 15-year-old sophomore. “When it all comes together, it really is.”

During the Bite of Reality exercise, at San Jacinto High each student was given a persona, including a job and salary and a family.

After tracking their purchases on their cellular phone or borrowed tablet, students ended up at a credit union and if they were over budget, were sent back to adjust their purchases.

Many quickly learned they couldn’t afford a sports car and a penthouse on a small salary.

“All these minor things I didn’t think would be that expensive, but the accumulation led to me being in debt,” said Trejo, a 17-year-old senior.

Eyebrows raised the highest with the cost of childcare, which could be as much as $1,000 per month.

“I’m going to have to make a lot of sacrifices,” said Cuevas, a 16-year-old junior.

The students come from the Advancement Via Individual Determination program. Known as AVID, the curriculum seeks to prepare pupils for college and career. It’s primarily aimed at students who wouldn’t otherwise attend college.

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