From Blenders to local bike shops, Santa Barbara Middle School students were exposed to the working world in Santa Barbara as they participated in a variety of jobs and service work this month.

As an extension to their Career Study Week, SBMS students got the additional benefit of learning how to handle the profits of their labor in a financial literacy course. Career Study Week is an in-depth study on local careers providing students with firsthand experience of the working world.

Santa Barbara Middle School partnered with Montecito Bank & Trust to bring this lesson to life. Brianna Aguilar, an associate with Montecito Bank & Trust, provided students with hands-on lessons on the key components to creating a balanced budget.

In the interactive workshop, each student was given a “fictitious” job and received their first paycheck. Aguilar then had the students learn about taxes, fixed versus variable monthly expenses, savings accounts, credit and loans.

“This is one of the best topics we have learned about all year,” seventh-grade student Ryan Godges said. “It really applies to our lives and answers so many questions.”

Sixth-grader Nico Laurie calculates his monthly budget. (Santa Barbara Middle School photo)

Sixth-grader Nico Laurie calculates his monthly budget. (Santa Barbara Middle School photo)

Using their new knowledge, students created a personal budget based on the notion that they were living independently and away from home. Surprised students laughed as they totaled the first draft of their “hypothetical” budget and quickly realized that their paycheck did not cover their desired expenses each month.

Sixth-grade student Hixon Foster was taken aback to see his final budget.

“As I budgeted things individually, the cost did not seem that much, but when I totaled everything it sure added up,” Foster said.

Aguilar instructed the students to rework their budget and figure out a way to be more efficient to stay within their allotted income. The discussion was elevated when students inquired about Social Security taxes, their credit score, loans and banking options.

“This was truly a life skill that I hope the students can use again and again,” SBMS Life Skills teacher Caroline DeLoreto said.

— Sue Carmody is the community outreach coordinator for Santa Barbara Middle School.