Our Mission

Empowerment Through Education

Real Money Real World


Each year, America’s high schools graduate thousands of young adults who are unprepared in matters of employment and financial decisions. Ohio State University Extension professionals developed the Real Money, Real World curriculum that simulates real-life experiences to help make youth aware of the money management skills they need. This program was designated by The Ohio State University Extension as a Signature Program in 2008.

The curriculum focuses on making students aware of the correlation between educational attainments and earning power.

Real Money, Real World programs are designed to be a partnership of the county Extension Office, the school, and the business community.

An active, hands-on experience, it gives young people the opportunity to make lifestyle and budget choices similar to those they will make as adults.

The Lessons

Real Money, Real World is an active, hands-on experience that gives young people the opportunity to make lifestyle and budget choices similar to those they will make as adults. The curriculum is comprised of six lessons including:

1. How Occupation Affects Income

2. Deductions-What You See is Not What You Get

3. How to Use Checking and Savings Accounts

4. Making Choices- Preparing for the Simulation

5. Real Money, Real World Simulation

6. What Did You Learn?

Throughout the duration of the program, students assume the role of a 25-year-old adult who is the sole income provider for a family. They receive an occupation, monthly salary, and the number of children they are raising. Students learn to subtract savings, taxes, and health insurance amounts from their income. The amount of money left over is what they have to spend during the simulation activity. The simulation involves community volunteers who represent actual businesses in the community; these volunteers set up and staff booths representing real-life businesses. By visiting the appropriate booths, students spend their salaries on items typically found in a monthly budget including housing, utilities, groceries, insurance, childcare, and transportation. Throughout the activity, students keep track of their finances and attempt to complete the simulation with a positive balance. During the post-simulation lesson, students reflect on their experience and what they learned by completing a self-assessment.

For more information and to order Real Money, Real World please visit:



Key Resources

Real Money, Real World – Executive Summary (pdf)

Real Money, Real World Evaluation – Final Report (pdf)

Real Money, Real World Evaluation (pdf)

Signature Program Leader

Kathy Michelich, FCS Educator


phone: 513-695-1311