Lomo Helps Teens Face Financial Reality!

University of Florida/IFAS Extension Manatee County recently provided some financial insights and answers to adolescents during a day-long financial literacy program called Living On My Own (LOMO). The program included a workshop, field trip, and simulation. At the workshop, teens learned about money, the importance of saving, choosing financial institutions, and recording account transactions. During the field trip, the group visited an automotive dealership where they learned about the car-buying process, ate lunch on a limited budget, and learned about housing options at a local apartment complex. At the simulation game in the afternoon, teens were assigned hypothetical incomes, family size and dependents. Teens were encouraged to make healthy and wise lifestyle choices similar to those adults face on a daily basis.

While touring the Cox Chevrolet dealership, Jay Cox shared information about buying/leasing a new or used vehicle, maintenance expenses, and insurance costs. “Visiting the dealership was very cool. They showed us the repair center and warehouse,” said Danny Henry, LOMO participant. The excitement and learning continued as Henry said, “I want a truck! It is amazing the amount of money it takes to make a purchase.” Students were encouraged to ask questions as they journeyed through the dealership. During the visit, the group stumbled upon Miss Florida 2016 Courtney Sexton, who was picking up her vehicle. She talked to the teens about the importance of a higher education, goal setting and reliable transportation. Participant Travis Johnson, was very impressed to meet Miss Florida and mentioned it at the closing of the simulation.

For lunch, students visited Culver’s Restaurant where some struggled to stay within their nine-dollar budget. The real food challenge came later when they had to purchase groceries for their simulated family within their assigned budget.

Later, the teens visited the Palm Cove Apartment community where the assistant manager led a tour. The group started at the leasing office, stopped at poolside, then ended up in one of their two-bedroom, two-bath units and one-bedroom, one bath unit. Renting options, community amenities, credit scores, and the importance of paying on time were big takeaways for the students.

The day culminated with a 12-station simulation game, where teens performed financial transactions using debit cards and checks to purchase items and pay bills. The simulation scenarios were very similar to what adults face on a daily basis. “I need to find a good job, not be a single parent and I want to save money early for my retirement,” said LOMO participant, Emma Sophia Kirby. Another participant, Joel Rodriguez, who was a simulated single parent, said “I learned how stressed out you are without money and realized I finished homeless as a single parent. I need to be organized with my math calculations and budgeting and not be a single dad.” Mrs. Angelita Ortiz, 4-H Program Specialist who assisted with the workshop said, “I wish I would have had this type of training as a teenager. It would have given me an advantage about saving money no matter what.”

Taylor Spangler, simulation facilitator and state LOMO coordinator at the University of Florida/IFAS, said “Manatee County is one of the first counties to incorporate a field trip in the workshop and simulation. It is a great opportunity for teens to visualize and put their gathered knowledge into practice.”

For more information on adolescent financial literacy programs, please contact the Family and Consumer Sciences or 4-H programs of Manatee County at 941.722.4524.