Walk in FINANCE Park

  • A Walk in the Finance” Park

    Sayville Students Take Field Trip to Junior Achievement Finance Park Simulation,

     “Going on the Finance Park field trip made me realize that in order to stay out of debt you must plan your budget wisely,” stated Sayville High School Senior Kiki Bustamante.

    This was the general consensus from the Sayville students in both the Wall Street: Business and Investments class (taught by Mr. Chad Cross) and the Accounting class (taught by Mr. Michael Pace) who joined their teachers and parent chaperones one day on a memorable field trip to JA Finance Park Simulation, in Hauppauge.

    During this month-long economics education program offered by JA Associates which is open to Long Island high schools, students who have been studying business in class get a fresh perspective outside the classroom. According to the JA Associates website, this program introduces students to “personal financial planning and career exploration. It is designed to be taught to high school students by classroom teachers. At the culmination of this program, students visit JA Finance Park to put into practice what they’ve learned about economic options and the principles of budgeting. Assisted by their teachers and a staff of trained volunteers, they have the opportunity to actually develop and commit to a personal budget.

    Financial concepts that were explored include Banking, Budgets, Buying, Careers, Choices, Consumers, Credit, Debt, Exchange, Expenses, Income, Interest rates, Investments, Money, Opportunity costs, Saving, Scarcity, Social Security, even Taxes.

    During the simulation, the students employed various skills that had them analyzing the “life situation,” as provided by the Finance Park simulation program, and applying this “information” while determining their budgets. The students learned how cause and effect impact their decision making. They used critical thinking, computation, and data collection in the process. They were required to fill out forms, follow directions, graph, use interpersonal communication skills like listening, negotiating, and observing to complete certain tasks. By the end of the simulation, the students had planned, problem-solved, read, researched, role-played, spent “money”, took responsibility for the consequences of their decisions, and most importantly, learned the value of teamwork.

    “Each member of my class,” Kiki explained more about their one-day excursion, “was provided with a ‘debit card’ which provided us with our gross annual income, our occupation, the amount of members in our family and our taxes. After that, we calculated our net monthly income, and with that, determined how much we were able to spend on monthly expenses.  With knowledge of how much we could afford, we were sent out to buy groceries, a house and car, utilities and any other expenses to get us through the month. Through this simulation we discovered that in order to be successful you must consider your wants and needs and sometimes settle for less than you desire. Finance Park is the perfect way to teach kids that you must plan for your future in order to avoid debt.” (Kiki, as a Sayville Senior, plans to major in Finance at New Paltz and is already contemplating enrolling in their 5-year MBA program.)

    Sayville student Robbie Colarusso expressed a similar experience. We received Life Situation Cards that stated our occupation, salary, taxes, and other important information. I then had to calculate our NMI (net monthly income, and pay all of my expenses.  This absolutely prepared me for upcoming college and life itself.  I learned to carefully invest money into things while also thinking out the consequences and how you will benefit from it.”

    It was a very positive experience for the Sayville students as the following comments can attest:

    Kevin Lankowicz: “Since we have started completing our Finance Park work book, I have learned many things about financing.  Budgeting was perhaps the most important. I had no idea how much you have to take into consideration while budgeting. I know for a fact that what I learned during the process will help me become a successful adult in the future.”

    Kyle Wilson; “I thought the field trip was interesting because it taught me that it is very important to keep a budget when I am older. The people at JA finance were very helpful and answered all questions I had. I think that this visit will help me when I get a job and live on my own because it taught me that I need to spread out my money on all areas of life.”

    Chris Rupp; “I really enjoyed my experience at Finance Park.  It was very cool!  I was surprised how lively and fun the people where who ran the simulation. It was surprising how much paper work that your parents have to do and how much that you have to mind your budget.  It was very educational.”

    John Cutrone “I thought the field trip to the Finance Park simulation was very informative. The simulation was pretty enlightening about how little money you have after paying taxes, and especially when you have a family.”