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Student Shares Experience At Junior Achievement Finance Park

Posted Jun 2, 2016

Eighth grader Wesley Shoemaker has participated in activities at JA Finance Park before and has recently shared what his experience was like with Redskins.com.

The Washington Redskins’ rookie class will be participating in another community club event this Friday at the Junior Achievement Finance Park in Hyattsville, Md. to participate in a financial literacy demo with students.

Eighth grader Wesley Shoemaker has participated in activities at JA Finance Park before and has recently shared what his experience was like with Redskins.com.


By: Wesley Shoemaker

My experience at Junior Achievement Finance Park® was a unique one.  It opened many doors and brought new experiences to my life to help better prepare me for the future.  In this essay, I will explain my trip to JA Finance Park®, what I was able to take away from it and describe new things I learned and did there.  I will be explaining what my life was like, what my different takeaways and expectations were and finally, how this experience better equips me for the future.  I will also be providing insight into how this is not only helpful for me now and in the future, but how learning relates to this process.

At JA Finance Park®, I did not expect much except a math class for a day on money.  At first when it was brought into our curriculum, I thought it did not really make sense especially because I am in the 8th grade and it did not make much sense to me at the time.  As we started completing the workbook, though, it seemed a little more interesting and finally showing me things I know I would not learn unless I was in an economics class in the future.  Before this, I did not have much experience with budgeting outside of my parents teaching me those everyday lessons of saving my allowance.  At JA Finance Park®, we participated in a role-playing exercise where we were asked to portray different characters in life.  We were all placed at different stations and were assigned a job that had to do with that station. In my scenario, I portrayed a worker at a supermarket earning roughly $35,000 a year.  In my scenario, I was married with a wife and one child.  This turned out to be an incredibly illuminating experience for me because it exposed me to the realities of how expensive life (especially life with a child) can be.  It demonstrated how difficult raising a family at that income level can be, and showed me the importance of setting priorities that govern how and when money should be spent.  Some parts of the experience were easier than others.  The easier parts included knowing what you needed to buy, but even these “easy” decisions then lead to harder parts – figuring out how much money you needed to budget for each necessity in life.

At JA Finance Park®, the teachers and volunteers were key for our success there for a day.  The teachers shared their opinions and shared key insight on what we should do and what was a good decision.  They were able to not only give us advice on what they would do, but were able to relate it to their actual life.  This was able to help us as kids realize that these kinds of things actually do happen in real life and that it’s completely normal for things like this to happen in our life, and so this is a good way to prepare us for the future.

All of this leads to a good life lesson.  That lesson is: save first, spend later.  This lesson is important because it is a simple way of achieving a great financial record.  It helps you manage money in a way in which you will then have enough money later in life to spend on things you need as well as things you want.  This can also be a good lesson for me personally as I contemplate my future in college and then later in my career.  Knowing basic money management skills will help me better prepare for college and budget my money.  An additional thing I would like to learn relevant to money management is a better understanding taxes.  Taxes take up a lot of time and energy when my parents do theirs and is a source of stress.  All in all, my experience at JA Finance Park® was a very useful one that will definitely help better me for the future.

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