Bite of Reality teaches seniors about financial life after high school


During Bite for Reality, Danny Liu visits the day care booth to purchase various child care needs. Photo by Morgan Hawkins

Seniors gathered into the small gym Jan. 24. to undergo a financial simulation called Bite of Reality. Students were separated into three groups to attend during first, second or third block. The simulation started with participants downloading the Bite of Reality app for their smartphones. After entering a password, each student was randomly assigned a job, spouse and child. The goal was to visit each of the eight stations, which included things like utilities, housing and transportation, buy required items varying in quality and price, and have $100 left at the end.

“I was a social worker who made around $3,000 each month, and my husband made $2,000 each month so I was in pretty good shape. I had a 2-year-old son named Noah as well. I felt really prepared for the simulation because of my entrepreneurship and Living on Your Own classes, so at the end I still had $2,000 left,” Madie Ely said.

Over 20 volunteers from the community worked the stations, acting as salesmen to persuade each student into buying higher-priced items, leading some close to debt.

“I ended with everything I needed but only had $71 left and I had to change my cars and house so I didn’t go negative,” Evan Mansfield said.

When getting close to exceeding their budgets, students had to visit the credit union for advice on which items to return.

“The credit union was really helpful. One of the main guys talked to me and we went over what I got and he gave me suggestions on what to change so that I can be within my budget,” Mansfield said.

This program was run by the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation, working with local Schools Financial Credit Union and help from Mr. Brian Pointer.

“It was designed to fill a gap in the education system. Hopefully it opened seniors’ eyes to what life is like and helped them be better prepared to take on responsibilities. I wish to bring it back year after year to help students,” Pointer said.

During the first session, a local news station came to interview and document the event.

KCRA 3 News came in while we were doing the simulation and started filming. They walked around and interviewed many students, volunteers and Mr. Pointer. It made everything feel more important,” Ely said.

After the event, gift cards to Starbucks, Subway and iTunes were raffled off and student then returned to class.

Mansfield said, “This simulation showed me to put big important things first over things like entertainment and super expensive clothes. It also showed me not to give into people trying to sell me overpriced things and talk with family before buying things like special trips or expensive cars.”