Career Fair

Part 1

Many schools are starting programs that help kids understand what being a financially responsible adult really entails. Career fairs put students in real-life scenarios with jobs, families, bills, taxes and other financial obligations. It is like a more advanced version of the board game LIFE.

Some schools assign students occupations based on a personality survey. Other schools let the students pick their occupation or everything is chosen by random. Educators spend time researching the jobs and the average incomes that are associated with them. They also use state averages on certain costs, such as, the cost of raising a family, or owning a home. These figures are then applied to the activities.

Students will get paychecks based on what jobs they have. Then the students will draw what responsibilities they will have. Some will have large families, while other students will be single parents, or just living on their own. This attributes to their housing, family costs, and taxes. They will draw what kind of car they have and the payments that come with it. An example would be a new car with a high monthly payment and insurance, a used car that does not have as big of payment, and an older car that is paid off so there is only a monthly insurance payment.

Students then learn how to balance their checkbook and set up a budget based on the career and lifestyle that the student has drawn. While some students will find it easy to budget, some will struggle or stretch to get bills paid.

After the activities, students will share and discuss each other’s outcomes. It can be a real eye-opener for students to realize where the dollars go.

It is a fun way for teens to learn the value of a dollar and to get a peek at the real life that is not too far away for them.

Parents do not need to wait or hope that their school will have a Career Fair. They can do it themselves with a little research and work.

Next month we will go into more detail on how you can set up a career day at home. We will give you a list of materials and resources where you can find occupational statistics to use. We will give you directions and then some topics that you can use to discuss with your child.

Career Fair

Part 2

Continuing from last month, we will now give you the materials you will need to have a career fair activity at home. Another good idea would be to have your child invite friends over for a weekend and have a variety of jobs and life circumstances so they can see the differences.


20 index cards (cut in half)
tax forms
checkbook register
photocopies of blank checks
list of taxes
list of variable housing costs
list of utility costs

Use half of the index cards and put a different job with its monthly income on each card. Fold them and put them into a hat for the kids to draw out of. Use some of the other cards for the number of children. (Ex. 1 boy 1 girl, cost per month $795). Use the rest of the cards for different types of marital status, different luxuries, housing, and any extra expenses. Make sure to put the cost of the items on each card.


Bureau of Labor Statistics

These will help you find salaries for a variety of jobs.

These sites include other money topics to discuss with your child.

Have the children draw an occupation card from the hat. This will determine their monthly wage. Then have them draw from the other random cards to determine family size and marital status. Based on their selection, have them choose a suitable form of housing that they can afford.

Use the photo-copied checks to have the kids write out their monthly bills and have them record it with the checkbook register. Discuss and ask them ways that they could save money. Share with them your budget strategy and the bills you have to pay. If there is more than one child participating have them compare notes. You will find that some scenarios are easier to manage than other ones.

If the kids have extra income after they have paid all of their commitments than they may want to choose from the luxury list. (include luxury items for all income levels.) You can explain that smart budgeting and a good income can allow you such luxuries. Also stress that a certain amount should be going to savings each paycheck. Teach them that they may choose to buy a luxury item, like a big stereo, but if something happened and they didn’t have savings, then you can easily be in trouble.

This “game” can be played more than once as you could get different scenarios each time. There are no limitations on what to include. You can have kids keep drawing cards that have setbacks or promotions that will effect there income and living situations.

Use your imagination and some of your own experiences, but have fun. Your children may already have a good start with handling there finances now, this just gives them the idea of the magnitude of bills and responsibilities that are headed their way.

Pioneer Credit Counseling is a bonded, non-profit credit counseling agency offering debt management programs, financial counseling, bankruptcy counseling and housing counseling nationwide. Call our friendly counselors today at 800-888-1596 or visit

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It is our policy at Pioneer Credit Counseling not only to help people get out of debt, but also educate in sound budgeting practices.

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