Life with bills hitting N.C. high schools

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - When Damien Tate dropped out of Mooresville Senior High, the so-called real world hit him hard.

"Life isn't as easy as people think it is," the young man says.

Looking back, he knows he sounded a little immature.

"I said, I'll go get a minimum-wage full-time job, and an apartment with my girlfriend, we'll be alright," Tate recalls.

But then he got a lesson on "Life with Bills," and listen to him's like he's matured overnight.

"Life isn't all games, it gets for real when you hit my age. A minimum wage job or a part time job definitely won't cut it. That maybe, will pay the groceries," Tate scoffs. "You've got all kinds of bills that aren't cheap. Nowadays, rent is sky high."

Damien grew leaps and bounds with the help of Sarah Thompson, creator of the interactive program "Life With Bills."

"When you log on in to Life with Bills, the first thing you do is get a job," Thompson explains. "You fill out a job application, you get a bank account, and you learn the very basics."

It always seemed kind of nutty to Thompson that high school kids have to take things like Home Ec and wood shop, but nothing about basic personal finance.

"We teach everything else but financial literacy," she says.

Now, thanks to her program, and her help, this kind of education will be required in North Carolina schools this fall.

"We talked with the school board in Raleigh about it, and it is something that has been changed," Thompson says.

That makes Damien happy because a lot of his friends sound like he used to.

"I mean, they have the same attitude, 'why do I gotta come to school..." he says, rolling his eyes.

Over the past year, Damien made up two years of studies in seven months. This weekend, he'll graduate with honors.

"It makes me feel good that now on Saturday I'm going to walk across the stage and get a diploma when just last year I was sitting at home," he says, the eye roll replaced with a smile.