“Congratulations, you just walked into the crazy world of adult life,” Pepperell Middle School math teacher Tyler Thomas told his students at the beginning of class Thursday morning.
Thomas was giving his students a chance to finance three cars during his class using randomly assigned credit scores and salaries. The students had to see what they could afford without going completely broke.
“We can afford this!”
“Aw, that is so expensive,”
“Why do I have such bad credit?”
These were just a handful of questions and comments thrown around by the students as they went from car to car — which were actually just pictures — and compared the price to their monthly and yearly salary.
“It’s a reality check,” math teacher Tyler Thomas said. “They always think they can get the nice sports car but that’s not always the case.”
Thomas runs his middle school students through the exercise every year to let them practice calculating interest with a real world application. The students were randomly handed a credit score ranging from poor to excellent.
“Is a 555 good?” one student asked.
“Eh, not really,” replied their teacher.
Once inside the class Thomas passed out jobs with a estimated salary to the students. Students took down the interest rate associated with their score as well as the bills associated with their salaries. Students with higher salaries had more expensive bills since usually those who make more have higher mortgages, etc., Thomas told the students.
Good interest rates did not always follow good salaries. Kyson Robbins became an accountant briefly during math class and while his salary was high, he had about an 18% interest rate to go along his 475 credit score.
After picking three cars Robbins found his interest payments were more than the original price of the $50,000 car he selected and had to find some different options.
Gavin Mullinax drew waiter as his career which, for the exercise, had a yearly salary of $18,900. He also drew an excellent credit score of 849. After he paid his four bills and the payment for his Ford Mustang he was able to have about $500 left over on a monthly basis.
Adults pay for more than just cable, water, electricity and a mortgage, which is why at the end of the year, Thomas is going to have the students research different career paths for a different but similar exercise. Students will take their salaries, subtract their monthly expenses and plan a vacation with a full itinerary.