High School Students to Learn to Live Within Means During ‘CU Day @ the Capitol’

Northwest legislators will see high school students learning how to live on a budget during live Financial Reality Fairs at the 2013 CU Day @ the Capitol events.

Financial Reality Fairs are hands-on exercises during which students, after identifying their career choice and starting salaries, are provided a budget sheet requiring them to live within their means. They are required to pay for basic needs such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing and food. They are also tempted with opportunities to spend on “nice to have” luxuries such as pets, travel and spa treatments. After students visit all of the booths at the fair, they balance their budgets and review their spreadsheets with a financial counselor.

The Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) is sponsoring fairs at both the CU Day @ the Capitol in Olympia Feb. 7, 2013, and at the CU Day @ the Capitol in Salem on March 13, 2013.

Students from schools selected to participate will be brought to the capitols so lawmakers are able to see the live exercise.

“Financial literacy outreach is inherent in the credit union philosophy,” said Troy Stang, Association president and CEO. “Financial Reality Fairs are a great example of what our education outreach specialists are doing in classrooms all the time. Having the students come to the capitols allows our state legislators to see how critical the need is—and how credit unions answer that need.”

Funding for the fairs is being provided by Northwest Credit Union Foundation (NWCUF) grants.

According to the NWCUF grant application provided by Cathy Brorson, a member of the NWCUA’s Financial Education Committee and the outreach coordinator at Kitsap Credit Union. “The financial education of Washington’s high school students is left up to credit unions and other community groups in voluntary participation with educators. There is no state requirement.”

The Oregon NWCUF grant application submitted by Maps Credit Union’s Cori Frauendiener pointed out that 51 percent of Oregonians have subprime credit. An important component of the Reality Fair is teaching students the importance of debt management.

“It’s inspiring to see the students come into the fair and take their responsibilities seriously,” said Kasey Rockwell, director of outreach programs for the NWCUA. Rockwell went on a fact-finding mission to help the NWCUA prepare for the Financial Reality Fairs.

“I attended a fair at the Connecticut Capitol in October. It was sponsored by the Hartford Chapter of credit unions,” Rockwell said. “The students had the opportunity to buy more expensive furniture, trips to Aruba and other luxuries, but some finished the exercise with money leftover and bills paid. That’s a good feeling and a good example of credit unions doing well for communities.”

Association staff is working with the Financial Education Committee to organize volunteers and student participants. Interested credit union volunteers are encouraged to contact Kasey Rockwell for more information.

 

Questions? Contact Director of Outreach Programs Kasey Rockwell: 503.350.2217, krockwell@nwcua.org.

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