Life Happens: A Work, Class, & Access to Resources Game

by:    Tracy E. Ore, Assistant Professor, Saint Cloud State University, Department of Human Relations & Multicultural Education.

Instructor Directions

The Objectives:

1. For “families” to provide their members with the basic necessities of:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter

2. For “families” to provide their children with the best possible education.

3. To maintain the physical and mental well being of each family member by providing:

  • Health care
  • Entertainment
  • Vacations
  • Etc.

The Equipment:

  • Family Descriptions
  • Cost of Living Sheets
  • Life Happens Cards

Preparation:

Have class members count off from 1-7. After counting off, class members should then divide into seven groups according to their respective numbers.

Each group is then given a Family Profile that indicates the make-up of the family (e.g., how many adults, children, etc.), the household income, the amount of assets, as well as any special circumstances.

During the Game:

Each family must meet the needs of each member and develop and maintain the budget of the household. Families can calculate a weekly, monthly, or annual budget–whichever is most manageable.

The instructor periodically distributes Life Happens cards that indicate an event or circumstance that will impact the family. Members of that particular family will have to make attempts to accommodate the events and circumstances of these cards.

The instructor acts as the government/state/and any other institution that has the responsibility of insuring the welfare and safety of children. Due to the lack of response or the irresponsibility of particular families, it may be necessary to take children into protective custody.

Ending the Game:

The game ends after each family has had adequate time to manage their budgets, deal with their particular life circumstances (as determined by their profile and Life Happens cards), etc. Family members should give an oral report to the entire class with regard to their beginning circumstances, life events, and eventual outcome. The class will then discuss how well they think each family dealt with their particular situations.

Family Profile #1

After Tax Annual Income: $15,450.0
Assets:          $0.00

Family Members:

1 Adult Female
1 Adult Male
1 female child age 6
1 male child age 7

Description:    Your family lives in an apartment in Sauk Rapids. Both adults work full-time for minimum wage. Your employers provide no health benefits. The youngest child has a learning disability and requires additional tutoring outside of the public school she attends.

Family Profile #2

After Tax Annual Income: $35,000.00
Assets:   $0.00
Family Members:

2 Adult Females
1 male child age 6 months
1 male teenager age 18

Description:    Your family lives in an apartment in Saint Cloud. One adult works as a teacher in the public schools. She and one child are covered under her employer’s insurance program. The other adult recently lost her job as a US West employee. The teenager is applying to go to college.

Family Profile #3

After Tax Annual Income: $45,000.00
Assets: $5,000.00 (Non-liquid)
Family Members:

1 Adult Female
1 Adult Male
3 Teenagers age 13-17

Description:    Your family lives in a (not-yet-paid-for) house in Waite Park. One adult works full-time at the Frigidaire plant. The other adult works part-time at Fingerhut. The oldest child is autistic and requires an adult be home with him.

Family Profile #4

After Tax Annual Income: $75,000.00
Assets: $15,000.00 (Non-liquid)
Family Members:

1 Adult Female
1 Adult Male
1 female child age 4
1 male child age 8

Description:    Your family lives in a (not-yet-paid-for) house in Saint Cloud. Both adults work full-time in a small business that you own. Your health insurance is provided through your business.

Family Profile #5

After Tax Annual Income: $20,000.00
Assets:          $0.00
Family Members:

1 Adult Female
1 child age 3

Description:    Your family lives in an apartment in Sartell. The adult works full-time as a nurse’s aid in a near-by hospital. The friend that watches your child while you work is moving away soon. You will need to make alternative arrangements.

Family Profile #6

After Tax Annual Income: $125,000.00
Assets: $20,000.00 (Non-liquid)
Family Members:

2 Adult Males
1 teenage male age 16

Description:    Your family lives in a (not-yet-paid-for) house within the city limits of Saint Cloud. You own two cars, one of which is paid for. Both adults work as lawyers: one as a public defender, the other in a private firm. Each employer provides health benefits. Your son is hoping to graduate early from high school and is considering traveling before attending college.

Family Profile #7

After Tax Annual Income: $200,000.00
Assets: $100,000.00
Family Members:

1 Adult Female
1 Adult Male
2 female children age 3 and 12
2 male children age 17 and 18

Description:  Your family lives in a house in Saint Cloud. One adult serves as the president of a Bank. Health benefits are provided for your entire family through the employer. You own two cars, both of which are paid for. The other adult does not work outside the home. The oldest teenager is applying to college. The 12 year-old-girl has a learning disability and requires additional tutoring outside of the public school she attends.

Cost of Living (Monthly)

Mandatory Costs:

Food

Food on sale (lower quality, mostly prepared foods):    $100 per person
Food not on sale (higher quality, fresh vegetables, etc.):    $175 per person

Clothing (Buying new and cleaning old)    $20.00 per person (minimum)

Shelter

Renting an apartment within Saint Cloud:    $550 (gas & electric not  included)
Renting an apartment in all other areas:    $350 (gas & electric not  included)
Buying a 3 Bedroom home:
Rural    $10,000 down, $500/month
Saint Cloud Area    $20,000 down, $800/month

Utilities

Gas & Electric    $75
Water    $50
Phone    $50 (minimum)

Transportation

Car Payment:
Lexus    $400
Honda Civic    $275
Ford Escort    $200
Used Car    $170 (monthly costs for car for repair and service costs.) Note: if you have a used car you must also purchase at least one monthly bus pass.

Insurance:

Package 1    
$50/month/car 
$500 deductible
No coverage for uninsured drivers

Package 2    
$85/month/car
$250 deductible
Uninsured driver coverage

Gas: $80/car/month (minimum)

Bus: $21/month

Education

Through High School:
Public    Free
Private:    Cathedral High School    $3,000/year
St. John’s Prep    $7,000/year for day student $16,000/year for boarding student

College:

Community    $1,400/year
State    $3,200/year
Ivy League    $20,000/year
Room and Board    add $3,000/year for State University add $5,000/year for Ivy League

Health Insurance

Package 1
$150/family
$500 one-time emergency room deductible    
$20/office visit
50% off prescriptions

Package 2    
$275/family
No emergency room deductible
$10/office visit
$10 co-pay on prescriptions
No Health Coverage    $30 per person for miscellaneous medical costs

Child Care:

Basic care (no activities or educational programs):    $5/hour
Extended care (activities and educational programs):    $10/hour

Miscellaneous Personal and Household Expenses

$81.25 per person Includes everything from toothpaste to household repairs.

State Sales Taxes

$25.00 per person

Other Costs You May Incur:

Live-in nurse:    $300/week
Physician (office visit only)    $75
X-rays and other tests    $300 per x-ray/test
Hospital stay    $300/day
Braces    $1,500
Car Repairs    $150
Plumber    $100/hour (3hour minimum)
Hotel    $75/night
Motel    $35/night
Dining out (fancy)    $20/person
Dining out (McDonald’s)    $5/person

Life Happens events!!

Oops…You forgot to use protection! A new member of your family is on the way! Include in your budget increased expenses for medical care as well as the food, clothing and shelter arrangements necessary.

Congratulations! Your child receives a full scholarship to the college of her or his choice! Make the necessary changes in your budget.

Telegram: Your elderly parents (who both require constant medical care) are coming to live with you.  Include in your budget increased expenses for medical care as well as the food, clothing and shelter arrangements necessary.