Buying a Phone
Ask your students to choose between food and their phones, and they’ll gladly hand over their lunch money. A smartphone isn’t just a method of communication for students but also their entertainment and social life. In fact, about three-quarters of teens have a fancy smartphone at their disposal.
Cell phone use is often subsidized by parents until students are ready to leave the nest. Then, their most prized possession can quickly become a budget buster when teens realize just how much Mom and Dad paid for that phone. Missed or late phone payments will negatively affect students’ credit scores, which can also impede their ability to buy a car or a home.
Most teens would balk at the idea of having an archaic flip phone; only 30 percent of phone-using teens have a non-smartphone. But the attitude toward simpler phones and bare-bones cell phone plans might change when students see the money coming out of their accounts month after month. In the course, students have to choose a phone and a plan, and when to pay the bill.
For seasoned and responsible adults, it’s a no-brainer: Buy the phone and plan you can afford. The dilemma occurs when teens believe that phones with the latest onboard camera are more important than health insurance or paying rent on time. That unlimited everything plan? It comes with a hefty price tag that might not be worth the trade-offs.
Because Banzai teaches students to choose a goal and budget their money, they learn that no-big-deal, daily expenses can rack up in the long run. With visual reminders of their goals and their current financial status, players can adjust their cell phone plan to a smaller amount of data; that bells-and-whistles smartphone can be exchanged for a lower-tech version.
Students in Banzai gain some much-needed perspective before they leave home and start shelling out for their own stuff. After all, no phone is cooler than a balanced budget.
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