The Big Bank Theory

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The Big Bank Theory

Senior Nathan Christman visits the financing booth.

Senior Nathan Christman visits the financing booth.

Senior Nathan Christman visits the financing booth.

Senior Nathan Christman visits the financing booth.

Camryn Souders, Staff Reporter

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By: Camryn Souders, Staff Reporter

Oct. 11 and 12, Manatee High School held the Big Bank Theory, a real world budgeting activity hosted by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce in the south gym. All seniors in Manatee County participate every fall. Students are given a random paper describing their job, income before and after taxes, education level, and family status. Some students were farm workers with no high school education and others were doctors with PhDs. Annual income ranged from $17,000 to $70,000 according to the Department of Labor. 

Senior Justin Robbins leans over a booth at the Big Bank Theory

“I never realized what my parents deal with,” senior Jannel Brown said Friday, after completing the Big Bank Theory. “It really made me reconsider how I see my finances.”

There were several different stations for many real life situations. Transportation, clothes, credit cards, savings and checking, insurance, entertainment, housing, groceries, and utilities were all necessary. Other booths were based on your situation, like additional education, child care, and second jobs. A booth titled, “That’s Life” had random bad luck scenarios, like vet or doctors appointments, car issues, etc.

Another optional station was the “Your Vote Counts” station, where you could actually register to vote in Manatee County. The importance of voting was explained and the registration was simple and quick.

As the activity went on, many students were bankrupt and needed financial counseling the next day. Most ended up with two jobs, still barely scraping by. Others were living luxuriously, buying the more expensive options at each station. At food and clothing booths, name brand or off brand were available and documented the difference buying Walmart brand over Nike makes.

Unmarried students could marry other students to get combined incomes. Married students had to deal with what their paper spouse made, which was nothing for some. Second or first jobs could be given to spouses, but with that came having to pay for childcare. Through the program, students learned budgeting, saving money, and making decisions on what to spend. They’re introduced to the reality of paying bills and being a responsible adult and are given a basis for a financial future.