Rapid City middle schoolers learn life isn't cheap

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - If you had 50 thousand dollars, how would you spend it?

A Rapid City middle school student selects a home based on how much pretend money he has in his hand. (KOTA)

Well, that was the question Rapid City middle school students had to answer Tuesday night. The students divided their fake cash as they played a fun game of being fiscally responsible.

It was Spending Frenzy at North Middle School Tuesday night.

For the first time, the Black Hills Community Loan Fund, Oglala Lakota College and Rapid City Area Schools partnered up to teach several children how to cash their fake checks and spend their money.

Once the wads of $50,000 in fake cash were handed over, the children rushed to purchase food, a car, a home and even insurance.

Then, life hits them.

Throughout the two hour simulation, the children are handed random green cards with scenarios like 'receive $500 as an inheritance for your grandmother passing away' or 'your identity was stolen'. The children then have to deal with the random struggles life throws and figure out how much money they have left.

While some children were happy to purchase the cool motorcycle or the lavish home, when they did the math later they realized the real world is expensive.

"The thing that troubles me as a parent of five boys is I worry that my sons, are they financially ready. Especially when they are getting ready to leave school," Black Hills Community Loan Fund Executive Director Onna LeBeau said.

Le Beau said the goal is to make it less taboo when talking about finances with children.

She said learning concepts like budgeting and building credit are valuable lessons that will take the children far.

"Credit impacts whether you are able to get a job. Credit impacts whether you're getting a house. Credit impacts if you can get a car," she said. "All of these decisions that these youth are given, especially when they first start school. If they go into college they are given a credit card, are they taught how to use it? And are they taught that any negative decision that they may make will follow them for the next seven years?"

Le Beau said she hopes to expand this game to include high school students.

But to cater to the older age range sooner, they are hosting a 10-week business plan competition next week.

They are partnering with a Montana group called the American Business Leaders and Title VI Indian Education to host the competition for the high schoolers.

Prizes will be handed out at the end of the competition.