Jumpstart’s Reality Check gives youth insight into what it costs to support an adult lifestyle

What income will you need to support your perfect lifestyle?


Life is full of choices and young people have many choices to make right away after completing high school or college. Should you live at home? Should you get a shared or single apartment in a big city or a smaller town? What kind of car or transportation should you use? What about clothes, haircuts, smart phones and pets? Will you go out the movies or spend money on gifts for friends and family? How about student loans? Will you prepare meals at home or eat out?

Through Jumpstart’s Reality Check, youth complete multiple choice questions to envision the cost of choices for the next phase in their life. The data used is from national averages, so while local salaries, wages and cost of living might differ, it will provide a framework between income and expenses and how that affects overall lifestyles choices.

There are approximately 10 questions and the overall questionnaire will take 5-10 minutes to complete. Once done, the Reality Check result shares the overall amount of money youth would need to earn hourly, weekly and per year to maintain the lifestyle choices made. It also shares a few jobs that fall into that pay scale, as well as education levels and their typical hourly wage rate.

Reflection is an important piece to do after the Reality Check results. Some reflection questions to ask after the questionnaire is completed include:

  • Were there choices that were hard for you to make? Choices that were easier for you to make? Why?
  • Were you surprised by what your lifestyle would cost? Why or why not?
  • Which (if any) of the careers interest you from the list? Are there other careers not on the list that you would want to explore the salary range and education needed?
  • Why is it important to have an idea of a salary range now for your lifestyle instead of figuring it out as you go?
  • What have you learned from doing this Reality Check activity?

Jumpstart’s Reality Check is a great addition to a lesson or activity around money management or career development. After completing the Reality Check, youth can create a budget for their lives and research the careers listed or other careers of interest to develop a career plan. This would also be great for parents and teens or mentor matches to complete together.

After completing the questionnaire, youth can discuss the results with a caring adult in their life and hear tips from that adult from the lessons they have learned. The 4-H curriculum, “Build Your Future,” is a resource to help with activities and education to support the next steps in career exploration, as well as content on the Michigan State University Extension 4-H Career Preparation website.

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives. For more information or resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, financial education, or entrepreneurship, contact 4-HCareerPrep@msu.edu.

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