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Digital Game: Spent

Should you "splurge" on health insurance or gamble on remaining healthy? Can you afford to let your child take part in extra-curricular activities?
The interactive game Spent puts you in the shoes of an American living on the minimum wage. Can you make it through the month?

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One dollar bill

“Millions of Americans are unemployed. Now imagine you’re one of them. Your savings are gone. You’ve lost your house and you are down to your last $1,000. Can you make it through the month?” This is how the interactive game starts. As a player, you become responsible for making financial decisions during the course of a month of this person's life.

Tasks to complete before playing the game:

  1. How can a person’s life be affected by poverty? Consider both the financial and social effects.
  2. What do you think are some of the reasons for income inequality in the US?
  3. Who has the responsibility to help people who are financially disadvantaged? Governments? Local communities? Family? Others?
  4. The federal minimum wage in the US is $7.25/hour. After taxes the monthly salary on a minimum wage is approximately $1,150.
    a) Make a suggested family budget for somebody living on the minimum wage. Add additional categories if necessary. b) What would you need to go without in order to live on this budget?

budget

Monthly income

$1,150

EXPENSES

Rent

Utilities (Water/electricity)

Insurance

Food and household expenses

Transportation

Leisure activities

Other

Savings

Play the game

Divide into pairs and go here to start the game at playspent.org. During the game you will be faced with a series of difficult choices. Take your time and discuss these choices with your partner as you play. Remember that your goal is to get to the end of the month without running out of money.

Discussion questions:

  1. At the start of the game you can choose between three different jobs. Which job did you choose? Why?
  2. Make note of the five most difficult choices you had to make during the game. Why were these particularly difficult?
  3. Were you able to go the whole month without running out of money? Why/Why not?
  4. Do you think this game is a realistic simulation of life on the minimum wage in the US?
  5. Discuss the most difficult choices with another pair of students.
    a) Did you choose the same situations?
    b) Would you have made the same choices in real life?

Additional task/further reading:

Watch this interview with an American mother about poverty in the US. In what way is her situation similar or different to the story you played in Spent?







Sist oppdatert 16.03.2020
Tekst: Aleksander Husøy og Halvor Østerman Thengs (CC BY-SA)

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