Making banks: Students learn about saving money

MORGANTOWN — Evan Brown was quite bowled over by the whole thing.

“Whoa, man!” the fourth-grader exclaimed. “That one’s almost three bucks!”

And the other was half that.

Evan, who is a student in Mrs. Christina Kennison’s room, just got a serious lesson in Cereal Marketing 101.

It came courtesy of the WVU Extension Service.

Becca Fint-Clark, an Extension agent who works with 4-H clubs across the county, ran the lesson with Mary Kerns, a teacher and training and development programmer with the service.

A WVU faculty grant helped fund the program.

“The idea is to get them thinking about money management,” Fint-Clark said.

“And the difference between needing something and wanting something,” Kerns said.

Students learned about budgeting and how those good old-fashioned flyers in newspapers can help them save money.

“If we can get one thing to stick with them, it’s a good day,” Fint-Clark said.

On this day, that one thing turned out to be cereal.

Kerns presented two boxes. One was a brand name. The other was a regional knock-off.

The box of the store brand was larger, with brighter colors and sharper graphics.

“Which one do you think might be the better buy?” Kerns asked.

It was unanimous, the class said. The store brand, with the oversized box.

“Which is more nutritious?”

No contest, the class said. The store brand, again.

“Why is that?” Kerns wanted to know.

Again, because it “looked” better, the class said.

The class cheered the reveal.

Both brands contained 12 ounces of cereal, Kerns said.

A read of the nutrition label showed exactly the same ingredients.

“It’s just how they market it,” he said.

“I wasn’t thinking about that,” said Evan’s classmate, Dagney Ashton.

She was thinking about charity, though. She and her little sister pooled their piggy banks over Christmas and gave the take to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the medical facility that offers free care to needy families.

The take was $22.

“And 25 cents,” Dagney said.

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