Personal Finance class pays students ‘daily income’ to imitate real world budgeting skill

Marino Dominguez, Staff Writer

Life skill classes have always been a controversial argument among teachers and students, who debate whether or not it is the parents’ job to teach these basic, fundamental principles of the real world. One of Bear Creek’s life skill classes — Personal Finance — taught by math teacher Rin Fusselman, focuses mostly on the budgeting and the saving portion of life.

“We talk about setting up a budget, and also being able to save,” Fusselman said. “We live in a generation where we ‘want it now’ and when we are all done, we just throw it away.”

The class revolves around real-world application, and being able to directly use the things you learn in your adult life. Fusselman also utilizes group work to teach students how to work together in a workplace.

“We do a lot of group projects in here,” Fusselman said. “Not necessarily big, huge projects, but things you work together on as a team.”

Fusselman simulates the classroom as living in a house with roommates, making the “tenants” pay fake rent to the “Bank of Rin,” as she calls it. She does this in the hopes of making the students self-aware of how expensive it is to live in the real world.

“This spring, the teams are living in ‘houses,’ having to research housing prices and car payments, along with careers,” Fusselman said. Fusselman’s students presented their researched careers to guest classes during her sixth period.

“The first thing students did was investigate potential careers for them, what interests them,” Fusselman said. “Then they researched the kind of schooling they need to have to pursue that career.”

Fusselman stressed the fact that not all careers require a college degree, like trade jobs. “Not every job that we need in our community requires a 4-year degree,” Fusselman said. Also, Fusselman welcomed military recruiters into her class to speak to her students about additional career opportunities other than college and trade jobs.

“You need to have at least a decent foundation in Math 1,” Fusselman said. “You [also] need to be able to budget your time in class, there isn’t much homework outside of class.”

One of Fusselman’s year-long projects is her “daily income,” which students earn for every hour in class (increasing every quarter). All students begin at minimum wage, and pay increases with higher test and quiz scores. “If your absent from class, you don’t get paid for that day…. Students say, ‘That’s $48 I didn’t earn and rent is due today,’” Fusselman said.