Janet Jacobsen: Spent


Where did you choose to live? Why, and what are the benefits and costs of that choice?
I picked about the mid-point in rent and distance. In any case, rent was going to take a huge chunk of my available funds, and living further out was not giving me that much of a financial gain. And I was afraid that living too far away (50 miles!) would reduce my options in being able to get to work, especially if I had any kind of car problems. So it was essentially a choice to reduce my costs a bit, while hopefully still keeping my transportation options open. At one point in the game I opted to take the bus; I wonder if that would have been a choice if I were “living” further out.

What did you buy for groceries? How did your choices affect the rest of your month?
In actuality, I’m a really efficient food shopper, and I’m a good enough cook to be able to do a lot with not much. So I loaded up on fruits and vegetables, pasta, chicken, bread, and peanut butter and spent a bit less than $50, so it didn’t impact my overall budget too badly, and we didn’t run out of food.


What did you choose regarding your child’s after school activities? Why?
I said yes on all of them, which I believe totalled about $40 for the month. First, you want to support the child’s learning as much as possible. Also, it’s awful from a child’s point of view to be the one “left out.”

What did you give up because you either had no money or chose to save?
The big worry was not getting a bad tooth looked after. This is a problem that will not go away, and potentially gets more expensive the longer you let it go. I also didn’t make a student loan payment, but I didn’t think of that as “giving up” something…..


How did playing change the way you think about your own or others’ choices?
It was a reminder of how much difference an education makes. Just for starters, I could help my child with her homework! But frankly at several points in the game, I was aware of other options that were available in such a situation, which weren’t given as options in the game. Today we tend to think of information being readily available to everyone, but the “digital divide” is real and an option you don’t know is an option that doesn’t “exist.”

Other than learning the importance of saving money, what other skills did you learn?
It’s not my natural inclination to ask people for help, but it made a difference multiple times in this game, so it reinforced my efforts to not always think I’m less of a person if I need help. I spent a lot of my life not having much money – I actually was an office “temp” for awhile, so that was the natural choice in the game for me. Many of the other game scenarios were already familiar situations to me, and I did pretty well at making “good” choices.