JA Personal Finance Experience

JA Personal Finance Experience is a live budgeting and career simulation for high school students. It offers students a real-life situation where they are assigned a lifestyle scenario that includes marital status, number of children, employment, and income. Then, students will use a budget to make important money choices about housing, transportation, food, clothing, and more. Students will gain an appreciation of the tough financial choices adults have to make each day. They will also learn how career, education, and spending choices can have a direct impact on their success. This is a unique opportunity to explore how to make smart earning, spending, and saving choices.
How it Works
Students will be assigned a life situation that dictates their career and salary, as well as a family situation and responsibilities. This will impact their budgeting decisions as the simulation progresses. 
Then, the students visit 18 stations that represent an area of personal lifestyle expenses. When visiting each station, students work with volunteers to determine how much of their budget they will put toward each of the 18 expense categories. Volunteers help guide students through the simulation and make smart spending choices. The goal is for the students to balance their budget within $25 of their salary.
Volunteer Experience
Volunteers help students make informed decisions about personal finance. Each volunteer is assigned to a station that represents one of the 18 areas of personal expenses. Their role is to explain the option sheet for that expense category and help students understand their choices. On-site training is provided prior to the program, and JA staff will be on hand throughout the activity to answer any questions. 
Volunteers are encouraged to engage with the youth and give them constructive feedback (explaining that buying more groceries saves more money than choosing to dine out several times per month). Volunteers may also encourage students to return to different stations for further explanation or to reevaluate decisions they made at previous stations.
Example Station: Water/Sewer/Trash
The volunteer would explain how you must pay your bill in order to have running water to take a shower.
Unforeseen circumstances can make or break a budget in the real-world, so as students work through the budget puzzle, a roaming volunteer will present them with an "unlucky chance card," which will hold them accountable for life's little emergencies, such as having to pay $40 to a locksmith after locking themselves out of their car.
Pillars of Student Success Entrepreneurship:  Financial-Literacy:  Work-Readiness: 
Program Implementation Program Grade-Level
Classroom-Based High School
Program Concepts Program Skills
Budget, Budgeting, Compound interest, Consumer protection, Credit, Credit cards, Credit reports and scores, Debt, Earning, Education, Expense, Fixed expenses, Fraud, Identity theft, Income, Insurance, Interest, Investing, Lifetime earnings, Opportunity cost, Personal finances, Pay yourself first, Principal, Risk, Risk management, Saving money, Savings, Variable expenses Analyzing information, Categorizing data, Creativity, Decision making, Evaluating alternatives, Graphic presentation, Oral, visual, and written communication, Prioritizing information, Read for understanding, Using a timeline, Working in pairs, teams, and groups

Program Sessions




Water, Sewage, Trash








Health Care

Dining Out

Home Improvement