BECKLEY, WV (WVNS)– Grant Winkler, an eighth grader at Shady Spring Middle School, said on Friday, October 6, 2023, that he made an unwise purchase in his school auditorium earlier that morning.

“A Tesla,” he said.

The West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office program “Get a Life” is a hands-on learning experience for students like Grant.

Students visit booths to buy a house, car, groceries and pay utilities — all on paper, of course — and they then balance two budgets.

One is a minimum wage monthly budget. The second is the living they could make with a college degree.

“Kids really don’t have an idea of what it is to budget, have to buy a car, pay for a house, groceries, feed a family for some of them, so this they start to see that oh, if I have a minimum wage job, it’s a lot more challenging to do the things I want to do,” said Jacquie Phillips, who teaches English at SSMS.

Winkler said a few bad “purchases” placed him in debt but that he learned from the experience.
“I had a bad car, and it was like, expensive,” he explained. “And that was, the house was, there was only like one house that could like do what I needed it to do, so, the house and the car, basically.”

Volunteers from the Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce helped students navigate their payments and purchases at the various booths.

West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office Financial Education Specialist Katie Holstein said that the goal is to encourage West Virginia students to pursue higher education.

“It’s very eye-opening and like a-ha moments,” Holstein said. “I’ve also had kids make comments to where they’re like, I didn’t realize stuff was this expensive, you know, I’m not going to ask my parents for hardly anything any more, and that kind of stuff. They really realize it’s going to take higher education in order to really make it.”

“Get a Life” will be at Trap Hill Middle School in Raleigh County on Friday, October 13, 2023.