UACES Facebook Extension financial literacy program an ‘eye-opener’ for high school students
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Extension financial literacy program an ‘eye-opener’ for high school students

By Emily Thompson
U of A System Division of Agriculture
April 28, 2017 

Fast Facts:

  • ‘Get Real, Here’s the Deal,’ teaches youth basics of personal finance real-life scenarios.
  • FINRA Foundation: Two-thirds of adults couldn’t pass a basic financial literacy quiz.
  • Setting goals, knowing what builds credit and living within your means are first steps to financial stability.

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MENA, Ark. – It was a typical day at Mena High School — students flooded the hallway on their way to class, the bell rang and the day began. All was normal, except the seniors of Mena High gathered in the school cafeteria to learn a life skill with which most adults struggle. 

The Mena students took part in the Cooperative Extension Service’s Get Real, Here’s the Deal program, a program that teaches youth the basics of personal finance through a simulation of real-life scenarios. 

“It gives young people the chance to practice personal finance in a safe environment, as opposed to real life where mistakes can be costly,” said Laura Hendrix, assistant professor of family and consumer economics for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 

Participants in the program visit 12 stations that have money scenarios they are likely to face later in life, including childcare, utilities and unexpected costs.   

“They have to go to station to station and make decisions that we have to everyday as adults,” Hendrix said. 

The stations are run by community volunteers. At Mena High School, the Mena Water Department director, the city clerk, Extension Homemakers, 4-H Club leaders and others volunteered to run stations. 

Hendrix said programs like the Get Real, Here’s the Deal program, are important because they teach youth the skills they need to have a shot at being financially stable adults. 

“I think it was a real eye-opening experience” for the students, said Bridgett Martin, Polk County extension agent for the Division of Agriculture. 

Many students didn’t realize how much it costs to raise a child or how little they actually knew about money. 

“I just realized that it takes lots of money to have a family, house, car and to buy things you need and want,” said one Mena High School student after taking the program. 

The Get Real, Here’s the Deal Program is available in all counties. Several counties have run simulations so far this year, including Madison, Sevier, Marion, Garland, Jackson, Sebastian, Washington, Yell, Bradley and Logan. 

How Financially Literate Are You?

A study conducted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA Foundation, an organization that regulates Wall Street, found that more than two-thirds of Americans couldn’t pass a basic, five-question financial literacy quiz. 

Hendrix said that it is important to have a solid understanding of personal finance because it leads to financial stability and the quality of life you wish to have. 

“The real purpose of income is to build quality of life,” Hendrix said. 

Below are a few of the most common money mistakes and misconceptions Hendrix sees when teaching personal finance. 

  • Skipping the goal setting. “The longer I work in personal finance, I realize the importance of setting goals,” Hendrix said. “Not just monetary goals.” Think about what you want your life to look like in the future. Does that vision include earning a college degree or owning a home? Write down the things you want to achieve to begin to adjust your finances accordingly.
  • Credit. Hendrix said credit is often confusing to consumers and many don’t know what factors lead to building credit. Having a good credit history is important to building good credit. Hendrix recommends making a habit of making regular, on-time payments and avoiding taking on a debt load you can’t repay. Hendrix also recommends having a variety of types of credit, like a credit card and an installment loan like a car loan.
  • Jumping the gun on investing. Hendrix said when she teaches adults about personal finance, they are eager to learn about investing. While investing is a good way to make your money grow, there are a few things you need to do before you start. “First, you have to make sure to live within your income … and that your spending habits don’t put you into debt,” Hendrix said. The next step is to build an emergency fund for surprise costs and make sure your adequately insured so that one home or car incident doesn’t set you back. The final step to take before investing, Hendrix said, is to take full advantage of the retirement options available to you. If your employer doesn’t offer a retirement option, look into opening an IRA.

For more information about the Get Real, Here’s the Deal program, visit, Or follow @uaexMoney on Facebook and Twitter. 

For more information about personal finance, visit,


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.  If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your (insert appropriate office) as soon as possible.  Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.  

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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