POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - Heartland teenagers got to a little taste of what life is like after high school at a "reality fair" in Poplar Bluff on March 30.
Many of the students said they were shocked to find out how much money it takes, just to provide the necessities. However, they say it's better that they find out now, rather than later.
With real choices, real expenses, high schoolers found out that the real world, can be real tough.
"What you do, if you have a child, what your spouse does, and then you walk around to figure out what would best fit your income," Clearwater High School student McClay Lewis said.
Just like life, each of the scenarios handed out to the students, is different.
"I was a cook and I was married to a brick layer," a Doniphan student said.
Local agencies and organizations volunteer to provide mock services from insurance to childcare to the everyday basics.
"Children cost a lot of money, people, heads up!" Clearwater High School student Bryce Alcron said.
"Yeah, I didn't know how much food was going to be," Clearwater High School student Tyrone Carroll said.
Organizers say not only does the fair help teens prepare for the real world, but it's also an investment in the future of the community. It's about teaching students, early, to become responsible adults.
"That's your money. It's either in your pocket or somebody else's. Wise thoughts on processes on spending," lead organizer Davine Conover said.
"You have to buy for your children too, it's not just about taking care of yourself," volunteer Penny McGath said. "It's about taking care of your family."
Students say they're thankful for the reality check and grateful for what they, now know, their parents do for them.
"I would like to thank my mother for feeding me all these years," Carroll said.
"My parents had to give up a lot for me and I respect them a lot for that because they could have so much more if they didn't have me," Lewis said.
This event was recognized nationally, in February 2016, with a first place financial education award.