Name brands and money in the bank

By Jasper Smith, GTA Instructor

Having a firm understanding of the language of money is something I will make sure the students leave GTA with. I was shocked to learn that only 4 (out of 20!) students in my new group currently have a bank account, and of those that did, only one knew how to write a check. I’m well aware that nowadays most people utilize some form of technology when making payments and the art of writing a check is slowly becoming obsolete. However, knowing how to write a check is a basic thing that EVERYONE should know how to do. The one student who knew how to write a check was kind enough to draw a picture on the whiteboard and explain the various components of a check.

With my new group that started this month, my favorite activity (GTA’s Flea Market Game) most certainly delivered once again! It is a thrill to see the kids in action during this game. The students put their negotiating skills to use, making tough decisions about how they would spend their money, prioritizing their to-do list and making sure to keep their best interest top of mind.

During the post-game debrief last week, one of the sellers said it was all about the money and she was doing whatever she could to ensure that she made the most money from selling her items. Another seller had the exact opposite attitude. She was more in favor of negotiating with the buyer in an effort to produce a win-win transaction. Another seller mentioned that he was doing his best to undercut the competition, in an effort to attract more buyers. The funny part about this game, is that it provides for a great example of what actually happens out in our society. All companies are not created equally and some value being friendly and accommodating, while others are strictly focused on profitability.

The Flea Market Game also sparked an interesting discussion about the price we pay for various goods. The debate was around name brand goods versus generic goods. The room was pretty much split down the middle. For those students who were willing to pay a premium for a pair of jeans, I asked them to explain why they were willing to pay so much. Their responses were pretty typical…their friends/family wore those name brand jeans, their favorite celebrity endorsed those jeans or they felt like they were receiving a higher quality pair of jeans since they were paying more. No one ever mentioned money during their explanations, which is where I wanted to draw their attention. I do not knock people who love name brand goods, however, I wanted to stress to the students that many people who buy name brand goods all the time, don’t always have the money for them. Or, they should be thinking about using their money for other things, but having an expensive pair of jeans is a bigger priority than saving money in a bank account. It’s little nuggets like this that I hope the students remember after they leave GTA.