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homeless simulationHave you ever wondered how people wind up homeless? If you have, then you’re probably one of many who doesn’t realise just how easy it is. All it takes is a month living on minimum wage with no savings and you’ll start to see how close you can get.

In an attempt to raise awareness for homelessness, get volunteers and donations, the Urban Ministries of Durham have created SPENT “” an online game designed to test how well you’d fare if you were out of a job and low on money. Can you make it through the month?

What Is The Game?

The concept is simple: You’ve lost your job and have no savings. How will you get by?

homeless simulation

It’s designed for anyone who isn’t aware of the difficulties of low-income life. I’d personally love to see high school students playing this before they leave home, go to college, get jobs and try to manage their own financial lives. It could prevent a few bad decisions along the way.

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homeless simulation game

How Do I Play SPENT?

Start here and accept the challenge to make it through the month without becoming homeless. After explaining your situation to you, the game begins by giving you three options for work: Restaurant Server, Warehouse Worker and Temp.

homeless simulation game

To be a temp worker you need to pass a typing test. The other two options will let you start straight away, so at least you don’t have to worry about unemployment in this scenario.

homeless simulation game

Once you’ve got a job, you need to choose the most affordable housing “” and it’s not just as simple as living outside the city. There are other costs too. SPENT helps you do the maths by calculating how much you’ll spend in fuel according to how far away you live from work.

homeless simulator

As you play the game, costs are taken out of your account according to everyday expenses and things you choose to pay for. When payday comes around it tops up your funds a little. You never have a lot, so you’re always watching that dollar figure and wondering what else will come up.

You’re then given a barrage of decisions to make based on everyday realities: kids school trips, insurance, paying large bills, debt collectors, speeding fines, Internet access….

homeless simulator

After each of these decisions you’re reminded of the reality of these choices: People with little income are often underinsured because the cost of insurance is too much for them. Many low-income earners go to public libraries to use the Internet because they can’t afford it at home; and people will choose to keep their kids home from parties because they can’t afford a present. It happens.

homeless simulator

Another factor of this game is the reality of choosing to ask your friends for help. If you opt to ask a friend to help you out with any of these choices, you’ll be directed to a Facebook link post. You can choose to send a message instead, but the sentiment is clear. If you can’t bring yourself to ask a friend for help in a game, you would feel terrible if you had to do so in real life. As an added bonus for the game, this is a great way to get the game to spread virally.

SPENT – Reality Check & Money Management Training

Play this game to give yourself a reality check about homelessness or to help you gauge the consequences of the choices you would make if you were in the same situation. There’s not a lot of online money management games appropriate for adults. Maybe there should be more!

Send the link to SPENT along with this article about Pocket Lint Pocket Lint - A Money Management App For Paupers [Mac] Pocket Lint - A Money Management App For Paupers [Mac] Read More to college students in the hope that it will help them make better choices. If you want to get your kids to learn about money early, try Zefty, MoneyTrail and reading about 10 Interactive Financial Websites That Teach Kids Money Management Skills 10 Interactive Financial Websites That Teach Kids Money Management Skills 10 Interactive Financial Websites That Teach Kids Money Management Skills Read More . If you’re now thinking about managing your finances a little better, here’s 5 Android Finance Apps To Save & Manage Money With Your Android Phone 5 Android Finance Apps To Save & Manage Money With Your Android Phone 5 Android Finance Apps To Save & Manage Money With Your Android Phone Read More .

How Did You Do?

homeless simulation

Did you make it through the month? Do you think a game like this will help people to learn more about homelessness? Let us know in the comments!

  1. Angela Alcorn
    February 24, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Obviously not all of the examples would apply to you (ie kids), but may apply to quite a few people.

    The idea not to be slanted, but is to simply show you how big bills will keep coming along even when your income has dropped. Most of these are bills which can't be ignored, too which adds to the stress and the downward access to money to pay for them.

    I'm sure it's enlightening to most people.

  2. Disgustedman
    February 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Frankly, this game is so slanted. I laughed when it said "Your landlord raised the rent $150, what will you do?" I chose "Look for another place" the response was "They require a deposit and first/last months rent" YEAH? then how did I get the apt I am (Supposedly) living in NOW??

    And not all people have kids. This game is so slanted as a begging tool it is quite disgusting.

    • Angela Alcorn
      February 24, 2011 at 5:44 am

      Obviously not all of the examples would apply to you (ie kids), but may apply to quite a few people.

      The idea not to be slanted, but is to simply show you how big bills will keep coming along even when your income has dropped. Most of these are bills which can't be ignored, too which adds to the stress and the downward access to money to pay for them.

      I'm sure it's enlightening to most people.

  3. Disgustedman
    February 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Frankly, this game is so slanted. I laughed when it said "Your landlord raised the rent $150, what will you do?" I chose "Look for another place" the response was "They require a deposit and first/last months rent" YEAH? then how did I get the apt I am (Supposedly) living in NOW??

    And not all people have kids. This game is so slanted as a begging tool it is quite disgusting.

  4. Nathan Grab
    February 22, 2011 at 2:47 am

    Money has been essential in living a decent life.

  5. Philwebservices
    February 22, 2011 at 2:46 am

    Its sad to know the truth.

  6. Karen Mendoza
    February 22, 2011 at 2:44 am

    Heart breaking.

  7. Hozefa KB
    February 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    This is horrible! i mean the life of a homeless person, not the website, which on the other hand is very insightful.
    Thank you UMD for educating us.

    • Angela Alcorn
      February 22, 2011 at 5:29 am

      It's true. It's so easy to see how homelessness happens.

  8. Hozefa KB
    February 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    This is horrible! i mean the life of a homeless person, not the website, which on the other hand is very insightful.
    Thank you UMD for educating us.

  9. SAngRoXx
    February 18, 2011 at 9:58 am

    It would certainly help as we get a short (kinda Trailer) of the life of a poor person. We can see how many sacrifices do the person has to make!

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