Financial Education Focus With NW Priority Credit Union

The scene: Dozens of students piled into a room. Pep rally? Over-booked study hall? Lunch?

Try a financial reality fair.

Last week, we showcased the collective efforts of 11 Northwest credit unions for the Financial Reality Fair Extravaganza, which hosted a dozen financial reality fairs at schools across the region, including nine in one day. Comprehensively, the day was a success. But how did things turn out ‘on the ground?’ We talked to Michael Murdoch of Portland’s NW Priority Credit Union, on their experience at Franklin High School in Southeast Portland.

“We had a headcount of 55 and everyone completed the fair,” he said, adding that they were  “happily surprised” to see the bulk of students finish with positive balances.

“There were quite a few who went over budget, but it was also great to see them rushing to find a part time job or spend time getting a loan through the credit union.”

According to Murdoch, the volunteers were evenly split among credit union staff and Franklin teaching staff.

“It was fun watching each add personal input about everything from cell-phone contracts to advice on eating out. It was also great overhearing ‘ah ha’ moments peppered throughout the fair and to see those smiles when students figured something out,” he said.

Students arrived with a solid grasp of what to expect because teachers sent them home on Tuesday with cards and worksheets to fill out in class before the fair. From a logistical perspective, it streamlined the experience for everyone. “There also weren’t many bottlenecks or overflows at one particular booth over another and as the fair progressed,” Murdoch said. “Kids just sort of went with the flow and found open spots as they became available.”

The Financial Reality Fair Extravaganza partnership capped off a busy month for NW Priority. In addition, they had 45 youths deposit well over $3,500 for a savings challenge, managed a competitive coloring contest and raised just under $400 for the Boys and Girls Club of Portland.

What about those “ah ha” moments? Here are his top (overheard) quotes:

Student to student:

“How are you saving that much per month?? Are you living on a curb??”

Student to credit union volunteer:

“OH WHAT? I thought I had unlimited money!?”

A couple who had partnered up for the fair:

Him: “I’m fine spending that much on a place to live, but she’s going to pay for the dog!”

Her: “But we don’t need to be spending that much on eating out!”

Student to Murdoch:

Student: “Ok, I get the student loans and I understand monthly expenses, but I am not dumb enough to have a credit card.”

Murdoch: “Did you spin the reality wheel already?”

Student: Yes, I owed 500 flipping bucks for car repairs.”

Murdoch: “You could use your credit card instead of getting a loan from the credit union.”

Student: “Ohhhhhhh, ok.”

Questions about this story? Contact Eric Horvath: 503.350.2222,

Posted in NWCUA.