Students learning life long financial skills

GREAT FALLS - Remember the show "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?" Well, you may not be feeling smarter than a middle or high schooler after this story.

How many of you dreaded learning how to balance your checkbook or fill out your tax forms growing up? How many of you still dread it? Well, a financial literacy teacher at C.M. Russel High School is making sure her students don't avoid learning how to budget their money.

For the last 10 years, Jessica Goosen has taught over 800 students basic life values for money, including saving, spending and giving.

The class's official name is Personal Finance, but Goosen calls this a real-life learning experience where students are learning to handle their money through various exercises.

Goosen will pay her students fake money for doing their jobs, and then make them pay rent using the computers. Students also get a chance to take field trips to the grocery store where they learn the importance of comparing items' prices.

"We look at different everyday shopping products. The name brand and then the generic brands. It's just interesting to see the price difference, and how you can save money when your shopping," said Chloe Clark, a 9th grader at C.M.R.

These students say another way you can save money at the store is to look at unit prices. Sometimes purchasing two smaller bags can cost more than one larger bag with more chips.

Goosen says more than 45 million Americans currently owe a collective $15 trillion in student debt, and one way to work toward avoiding that is providing this class for students. Goosen's advice is to start budgeting your money at an early age. That way, you have savings as you get older.

This class is an elective, and the students learn from a textbook called, "Ramsey Education’s Foundations in Personal Finance”. As it turns out, Great Falls Public School middle schoolers have an opportunity to take a similar class called Financial Literacy.

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