You’re nineteen years old. You have a job making several dollars an hour more than minimum wage. You should be able to afford to have a fairly nice lifestyle, right? Maybe you need a financial reality check. Reality Check is an easy to use financial calculator that lets you plug in a number of lifestyle choices (such as living at home with parents, renting an apartment, etc.). It then calculates what you have to earn per hour to be able to afford that lifestyle. I did a sample calculation and even without adding such expenses as attending concerts, college, and nice vacations, it calculated that I would need to be earning at least $19 an hour.

Reality Check is a resource provided on the Jump$tart Coalition’s webpage. Jumpstart is a group of organizations and business in the United States dedicated to improving the financial education of young people. The website itself does not have a lot of materials for classroom use other than Reality Check, but it does provide information about the importance of financial education and has links to some financial curriculum resources from other sources.

Some things I like about Reality Check are that it is easy to use, doesn’t require setting up an account or password, and could be completed by a class of students in a computer lab in probably fifteen to twenty minutes. I believe it will have a big impact on students with minimal class time and minimal teacher prep time. If you are a parent and your teen is in that “know-it-all” phase, you might want to sit down with him/her and have them try it out at home!