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Students Test Out their Personal Finance Skills at Test Drive…Next Stop Reality®

Over 700 high school students from Wisconsin and Minnesota recently put their personal finance skills to the test through their participation in our signature financial education experience, Test Drive…Next Stop Reality® (Test Drive). Test Drive is a simulation of real life when it comes to money and finances.  The events were held on October 25 at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire, WI and on November 14 in Minnesota at Stillwater Area High School.

Group of students working with teachers at Test Drive event

Test Drive in Eau Claire was attended by students from six different schools and programs, including Memorial, North, Regis, Fall Creek, and Mondovi High Schools and the Life Without Limits program. Over 300 students participated, many of whom were enrolled in a personal finance or marketing class. We had nearly 100 volunteers from both Royal and the community helping to make the event a success.

In Stillwater, we hosted our largest ever Test Drive with the entire junior class and almost 200 volunteers. This event was part of a school-wide Pathways Day in which students in all grades had scheduled activities that centered around college and career planning. In addition to Royal team members, many members of the Stillwater community volunteered to help throughout the day.

“Test Drive Reality Fair is exactly what students need for life and to better understand opportunities in the labor market” said Bob Manning, Career Pathways Coordinator at Stillwater Area High School. “Student engagement is off the charts as they learn what a salary really means when one is responsible for the array of expenses they will face as adults. With this context, they will be more receptive to career conversations with employers and the examples of salaries and benefits available to young people today.”

Test Drive is a hands-on experience in which students select a career and research the education needed as well as what realistic salary would come from that career. The students are then randomly assigned a family status and must live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, and food. Additional expenditures such as entertainment, pets, and unexpected expenses are also factored into the simulated activity. The booths are staffed by volunteers ready to help the students make decisions and offer guidance as students are faced with difficult choices.

Royal offers a wide variety of free financial education for all ages and stages of life. A full list of financial programming can be found at

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