New Video: Transforming Teens’ Financial Literacy Skills

The National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) has released a new video about Reality Fairs to highlight the value of this unique financial literacy experience. This video is comprised of numerous testimonials and provides an overview of Reality Fairs through onsite footage at a recent fair being held at the state capitol in Hartford, Connecticut by area credit unions.

The Foundation has been a catalyst and longtime supporter of Reality Fairs, including next year’s Reality Fair Extravaganza here in the Northwest.

A Financial Reality Fair is an interactive financial literacy tool for high school students. The Reality Fair concept is a unique opportunity for students to experience some of the financial challenges they will face when they start life on their own.

A Reality Fair provides a hands-on experience in which students identify their career choice and starting salaries then complete a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, and food. Additional expenditures such as entertainment and travel are factored in as well.

Throughout the fair, there are many temptations for additional spending, and students must learn to balance their wants and needs to live on their own. After the students have visited the various booths covering components of independent living, students balance their budget, and then sit down with a financial counselor for review. 

Kathleen Le, a senior at Seattle’s Franklin High School, attended a Financial Reality Fair hosted by BECU during the credit union’s recent Closing for Good event. She started the fair with the well-paid profession of Pediatrician. “By the end I was $1,000 over budget, but construction workers and plumbers were fine,” she said. “I learned that just because you have a good job doesn’t mean you get everything you want.”

Le said that it’s important for events like this to come to schools like Franklin that serve many low-income students. “I’ve learned more about financial management today than from anything else in my life,” she said. “A lot of parents here make minimum wage or are unemployed. We want to learn to do better than our parents, to stay out of debt.”

Credit unions interested in hosting Financial Reality Fairs in their communities can contact Jamie Dedmon, Managing Director of the Northwest Credit Union Foundation, at jdedmon@nwcua.org.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

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