No point in reinventing the wheel. This is one of the best simulations I’ve ever found for teaching people about the way financial hardship can affect nearly any family at any time.
We played the game this morning as a group, taking majority votes on hard decisions arising from real-life situations like “You’re sick today but you don’t get paid any sick days. Do you call in sick or go to work anyway?”
It’s funny how the kids didn’t recognize the ways they were slipping into the “parent mindset” that they hate so much day to day. When given the prospect of spending $10 they didn’t have so their kid could go on a field trip or telling the kid to stay home, a chorus erupted: “Just tell the kid to suck it up!” We teachers spent a lot of time pointing the students toward the emotional and relational effects of the current recession. Low-income families have a much higher incidence of depression, health-problems, stress-related fights, and abuse.
In fact, when given the option of helping a friend move for $50 OR attending their kid’s school play (in which the kid was playing a starring role), the initial choice was to blow off the kid’s play to earn the $50. Turning that around on the students, we asked them to consider the relational costs of their choices as “parents” in the simulation.
People are more important than things. Or money. We tend to assume that rich people worship money, but actually — those who are poor fall into that sin just as often (or more).
*I really like Spent because it ends with an opportunity to donate $5 toward a NC charity that assists poor family.