Students recently got a glimpse of reality at the third annual “Game of Life” event held in the 1787 Room. Players were given a fixed income and had to successfully budget their money as a preparation exercise for living in the real world.
The Game of Life is simple; students picked the career they are most likely to pursue after graduation and were given a likely salary for that profession. They were also assigned a credit score and given a student loan payment amount.
Armed with that information, they must then balance their living expenses based off their monthly salary and try not to go broke.
Kat Haseltine, a senior at Castleton and an event organizer, said she has always gotten positive feedback from students who have participated in the game.
“They try to work with that take-home pay and find a way to live. Some required things are housing, transportation and food, the things you really can't live without,” said Haseltine. “We’re hoping this will give them a little bit of an idea of what to expect after school.”
After players have paid all of their required bills, they have to factor in non-essentials like nightlife, electronics and the internet. The goal is to have extra spending money after all bills are paid, or to break even.
But you can’t have a deficit.
“If they’re in the negatives, they have to go back into the game and figure out how to live on the money they have,” said Haseltine. Possible solutions include getting a part-time job in order to accommodate for their losses, or going back and rethinking their financial strategy.
There was even a “Wheel of Reality” that players could spin only once.
“Anything can happen. You can win the lottery, have a flat tire, get a speeding ticket, that sort of thing,” said Haseltine.
Players who finished the game had their names entered in a raffle for a $250 Apple TV or a $50 gift certificate.
Kelly Beckwith, from the Academic Support Center and the organizer behind the event, believes the game is a great way to get students to start planning their financial futures after graduation and know what to expect when living on their own.
“It’ll maybe help you plant some seeds for your future and that’s the goal really, just to increase knowledge and awareness about financial topics,” she said.
According to Beckwith, none of this could have been possible without the help of the Heritage Family Credit Union.
“They have a Marketing Community Outreach Department and they’ve provided a lot of the materials for the fair. We are just so grateful for their support, and they are a wonderful partner in all of this.”
Students who attended the event took away a lot of insight from the experience. Freshman Nick Fecteau was shocked at how difficult it was to properly manage finances without overspending or going into extreme debt.
“Money goes quickly. You need to make a lot of money to live in the real world,” said Fecteau.
Andy Austin agrees that it is not easy to manage money, and you must make a lot of it in order to create a satisfactory life for yourself.
Junior Gabriela Guerrero said she would highly recommend attending The Game of Life to other students who may not be aware of what it takes to live on your own.
“They’re really trying to help us out when we graduate and we don’t really think about it everyday. So it’s a good experience to have just an idea of what we need to expand on and how we can manage our budget,” Guerrero said.