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Pequot Lakes seniors experience adulthood

Seniors Jade Olson (left) and Jillian Merten add up the cost of gasoline during the Reality Store event Tuesday, April 3, at Pequot Lakes High School. Theresa Bourke / Echo Journal

"I'm running out of money!"

This was a common phrase heard among seniors in the Pequot Lakes Athletic Center on Tuesday, April 3.

The students got a taste of adulthood during the annual Reality Store event, where they choose an occupation and are then given a random life scenario, including marital status, children and the expenses that come along with those situations.

Housing, insurance, utilities, vehicles, health care, child care, groceries and clothing were among the expenses seniors had to budget for with their given paycheck. Some experienced unexpected events, like a broken leg or a flooded home they had to deal with as well.

"The goal is really financial literacy and the ability to know what pricing is in real life, what we are all faced with once we graduate high school," said Tracy Tschida, Pequot Lakes social studies teacher. "That way they learn how to budget properly."

Senior Jillian Merten, a married baker with three young children, said she learned life is hectic and money is valuable.

"(I learned) not to blow my money in one go," she said. "Because now I can spend it on whatever I want, but I'm not going to be able to do that."

Caring for three children all around the same age and having two car payments because she's married were a couple of Merten's main struggles.

But when it came down to it, senior Chelsea Skluzacek voiced what was likely on every student's mind.

"Life is expensive," she said.

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