Members Credit Union hosted a Financial Reality Fair at North Davie Middle School for 150 seventh graders. The program called Mad City Money is a hands on simulation that provides students with a glimpse of what it’s like to be an adult managing personal and family finances. Each student is given a new identity with a family, occupation, salary, debt, and medical insurance co-payments.
"My seventh grade math class learned basic financial management skills throughout the school year," remarked Matt McPherson, Teacher at North Davie Middle School. "Applying that knowledge to a real world situation was a great learning experience. I think the students walked away with a better appreciation for the importance of budgeting and the responsibility of managing a family’s needs on a budget."
During the simulation the seventh graders were challenged to visit nine stations and make smart purchase decisions regarding housing, transportation, clothing, food, day care, and other purchases while staying within a budget. They were required to purchase items based on the size of their family and the age of their children. Volunteers played the sales person role at each station and tried to encourage higher priced items to test the student’s will power to stay within their budget.
"I think most of the students were surprised to see how hard it was to stay within a budget," remarked Andrea Blanton, PR Assistant at Members CU. "Many of them had to return items to the stations and rethink their purchase decisions."
During the simulation, the students were encouraged to visit the credit union station to make contributions to a savings account, open a retirement account, pay down credit card debt, and seek advice if they experienced financial trouble. The goal of the exercise was to stay within their budget but have no more than $100 in their checking account after they visited every merchant and made their purchase decisions.
"Budgeting was an important lesson in the Financial Reality Fair," said Carla Kimel, PR Director at Members CU. "The program also stresses saving by requiring no more than $100 in the checking account. It teaches them to make savings goals and use some of the discretionary income that is left to work towards the goals by depositing it into a savings account."
In addition to partnering with schools for financial literacy, Members CU has also worked with an after school program and plans to continue working with schools who wish to make financial literacy part of their curriculum.