KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) An estimated 75 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, according to officials with the Texas Partners Federal Credit Union.
It’s a reality check that some local high school students got on Wednesday thanks to a real life simulation fair.
It was hosted by the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), in partnership with the Texas Partners Federal Credit Union.
About 200 students from the Killeen and Lampasas Independent School Districts learned about budgeting, the cost of living, and the importance of choosing a career that matches up with the type of lifestyle a student wants to have.
At the reality fair, students were randomly given a career and salary to live by, complete with monthly taxes and other expenses.
The goal for each student was to keep a balanced budget.
"You got to figure out what's a need and then what's a want,” High School Senior Brian McCutcheon said. “Then once you get your needs, you got to figure out how much you want to spend on that need."
Other students, like Jennyfer Arriaza said it was an important reality check that she needed.
"I don't think a lot of my friends are prepared, and I'm certainly not either, but with this program, hopefully I can be a little bit more prepared,” Arriaza said.
Texas Partners Federal Credit Union Marketing Manager Britni Rachal said the workshop prepares students for the real world, which many of them may be facing in the next four or five years, if not sooner.
"So for a lot of them, it really is a reality check, just the cost of insurance, you know, putting gas in the car, the car payment, the rent payments, things like that,” Rachal said.
12 local vendors participated in the event.
Representatives from the Central Texas College and the U.S. Army were also present to talk to kids about options for college payment.