One of Juniata Valley high school’s main priorities is to prepare students with the skills necessary to be successful in life. JV business teacher Erica Mowrer has had the biggest impact on preparing students for life after high school through her personal finance class.
Students have been learning about the differences between renting a home and buying a home. During class, students comment on which one is better and why, then Mowrer expands on their ideas with her personal experiences and knowledge. The class has spent an entire period discussing pros and cons of both buying a home and renting one.
“Having a personal finance class is so beneficial,” senior Lexie Reed explained. “Mrs. Mowrer teaches the class well and makes me feel more prepared for life after high school. Without personal finance I do not feel like I would be half as prepared for life after high school.”
Next, students were assigned a project where they went on actual retail sites and shopped for houses for sale and properties for rent. They were given scenarios that had to apply to their house shopping. The renting scenario was three young girls looking to share a renters property with a cat. The girls could only afford a few hundred dollars a month, which limited students’ renting options. Students were to find two properties for rent, then compare and contrast the properties to see which was the best deal with the most accommodations.
Once they finished looking at rentals, students were given a scenario of a young couple who had just married and were looking for a home to purchase. The couple’s incomes were listed for students to calculate how much money they made after taxes to determine how much they could put towards a home. Students were to assume they would only put a quarter of their income towards a home and that they would eventually become a larger family over time. The students found two homes for purchase and compared and contrasted them, same as they had done with the rental properties.
“The thought of buying and renting a home is very exciting, but I didn’t realize the amount of thought and paperwork goes into it,” senior Moriah Hall stated. “Learning about loans and credit and how they are used to purchase a car and home makes me feel more comfortable with the idea of moving out and becoming an adult.
English teacher Andra Minor is currently in the process of buying and selling a home. Students were able to discuss what they had been learning in class with her and watch her apply it to her own situation. Minor had also gone to her colleague Mowrer for some loan and business advice as she continues the process of selling and buying her new home.
“I think it is great that our students have a class like this at our school,” stated Minor. “I would have loved to learn more about this when I was younger, because it really is an overwhelming process with a lot of factors. I’m glad I can offer some real-life experience for the students.”
After learning about buying versus renting, students began to learn about buying a new car versus a used car, another area where loans and credit are factors. Students were told to create their dream cars with all the bells and whistles they have ever wanted in a vehicle. Some students went over the top, creating vehicles that cost over $200,000. Once they created their dream cars they were to find a used car that was the same model within a few years to see how much they could save. To some students’ surprise, they were able to find the same model and year car for over ten grand less than the brand new vehicle they created.
Every time a brand new vehicle is driven off the dealership lot it decreases in value by thirty percent. Mowrer has informed students since the first day of personal finance that a brand new car will never go up in value. During these lessons that tied in with loans and credit, Mowrer has been able to prepare students for their future large purchases and to really think about their financial ‘lives’.