Nikki Bazil, housemom at Homes for Children’s Hope Cottage, realized two things: how fast her high school boys spent their allowances and how fast the few days left before graduation raced past. She knew she needed to do more to prepare them for life after Boothe Campus.

Nikki shared her concerns with other housemoms and Victoria Gordon of Brown Cottage knew her double major of finance and accounting equipped her to meet this need. The two moms brainstormed different ideas, prayed together and a new course for youth emerged. Money Matters is a monthly class open for sixth-graders to seniors.

The ladies presented practical lessons with plenty of hands-on applications to real-world situations. The January meeting focused on introductions and hearing what topics attracted the students’ attention. Subjects such as buying a car, renting an apartment even buying a house topped the list. Victoria focused the February class time on an overview of the actual cost of living prices.

She paced off 450 square feet inside the meeting room to approximate the size of an efficiency apartment in the nearby town of Beeville. As Victoria explained that small space would cost them $675 each month after the initial payment of nearly $1500, the students’ eyes widened and mouths dropped open. Most of them had not thought about adding up the application fees, a security deposit, an administrative fee as well as the first and last month’s rent before they even moved into an apartment of their own. The costs of utilities and convenience charges such as garbage pickup, internet service and cell phone contracts brought further thoughtful looks from the students.

Nikki passed out pencils, notebooks and calculators. She instructed the students to brainstorm menus for meals. Later they added toiletries, cleaning supplies and estimated the total cost. Once they decided on meals, students listed out the ingredients and created shopping lists. Victoria took the lists and approximated what they needed for an entire month. The students’ original estimations for the total price of a month’s supplies ranged from $150-$225 per week.

One weekend, the housemoms took four of the seniors to Walmart and had them price every item on the list. Nikki explained, “Victoria even showed them how to shop using the unit price on the grocery labels. Things we all take for granted but something desperately needed for this generation.” Once all the numbers came together, the final bill amounted to $800.

Victoria remembered the students’ astonishment by the high number and reminded them, “This was for just one person for one month. We had to do it that way so that they could see the numbers I’m giving them are real numbers.”

Addressing the stark truth about the high cost of living, Nikki and Victoria proposed to help the students learn to save money using their allowances as a guide. Using the youngest participating student’s allowance as a starting point, the housemoms explained the process of saving money for the future. They figured he could have a nice sum of money to use toward the costs of living or even his own car by the time he graduated if he set aside half of the allowance he received until that day.

Nikki and Victoria, encouraged by the students’ enthusiastic response to the lessons presented so far, built an outline to cover items specific to situations the students need to know. Nikki’s innate people skills enabled her to reach out to community resources. Nikki spoke with staff at STCH Ministries’ headquarters and discovered employees with banking experience. She requested someone to come and talk about how to open a checking account, what it takes to save money and how to set up a savings account. She contacted car dealerships looking for an expert to explain the process of buying a car – explaining extended warranties, GAP insurance and all the other things that come up when signing the financial paperwork.

The first thing everyone understood they needed to know revolved around how to live on what they earned. Many students on campus did not want to go to college. The housemoms clarified college was only one way to plan for the future; certifications, on the job training or an associate’s degree also sufficed. Each student needed to think now about what they wanted to do in the future and plan for that. Nikki and Victoria reiterated, “Figure out where you want to be and we’ll figure out how to get you there.”

Housemoms on the Homes for Children campus fill every aspect of the role of “mom.” Like every household, moms do more than cook and clean, they prepare their children for a successful life on their own. After only a few meetings, students now grasp that adult life requires more effort than they originally imagined; they also know their housemoms remain committed to ensuring they will be prepared when that time comes.