HHS freshmen learn real life scenarios at ‘Keeping it Real’ program

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–Helena High School freshmen got a preview of how life will soon change once they graduate, thanks to a program called “Keeping it Real” sponsored by the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce.

Officials with the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and several local business owners set up in the media center of Helena High School on Friday, March 2, with the goal of teaching the difference between gross and net income and the importance of budgeting.

Students were assigned a number of mock items including a job title, level of education, a yearly gross income, a personal monthly gross income, marital status, a spouse with a monthly gross income if applicable and a certain number of kids.

With the guidance of their teachers and volunteers, students visited stations including housing, utilities, insurance, just for fun, transportation, financial, education, second job, clothing, child care, that’s life and groceries and subtracted dollar amounts from their gross income to understand how far their money will go.

Eco Credit Union Marketing Coordinator Georgia Hux has volunteered at the financial station for several months where she encourages students to save 10 percent of their net income. Some of the kids will have extra money after that and she will also teach them about investments and IRAs and how to invest to see a return.

“There have been several students since I started this that said they’re going to go thank their parents because they didn’t realize how expensive things were and that’s what stood out to me,” Hux said. “A lot of them don’t realize that life is so expensive.”

When reflecting on the assignment, Hux said she wished a program like Keeping it Real was available to her when she was in high school.

“When I was in school we didn’t have any kind of financial education and at our credit union we really value financial education at a young age,” Hux said. “I think it’s really important that the kids are learning real life scenarios here.”

For more information on Keeping it Real or to volunteer at upcoming programs, visit Shelbychamber.org.