Watch a video from our June Financial Reality Fair at Woodstock Union High School.
Vermont credit unions believe that educating young adults and equipping them with the necessary tools to succeed in the real world benefits them and our economy as a whole. There are many tools that can be used to provide student financial education, but the one we’re most passionate about is delivered by local credit unions and offered free to Vermont high schools.
Financial Reality Fairs are a unique, hands-on learning experience from which high school students all across the country have benefited for the past few years. Now, Vermont’s cooperative credit unions are working together to bring Financial Reality Fairs to high schools across the state. We’ll teach students basic budgeting and finances in a fun and creative way that quickly grabs their attention, keeps them engaged throughout the interactive simulation, and inspires them to set (and achieve) realistic future financial goals.
A Financial Reality Fair provides students with a hands-on budgeting experience to gain practical knowledge about personal financial management in a one-day “real world” environment. It teaches students the value of responsibly using money and, more importantly, how to save it. Here’s how it works:
- Each student chooses a career and is provided with a “real world” corresponding salary.
- They must budget their money wisely to make ends meet by role-playing real life events for a simulated one-month time frame.
- Students must find a place to live, obtain transportation, and pay for food as well as other essentials.
- For approximately 2 ½ hours, students visit with mock businesses such as realtors, auto dealers, insurance agents, and more to obtain the consumer goods and services needed for everyday life. As in the real world, entertainment opportunities and various non-essential products and services compete for the student’s available dollars, enticing them to spend more of their hard-earned income than may be prudent.
- Students document their income and expenses during the simulation and must achieve a balanced budget for the month. As the Fair concludes, each student reviews their results with a financial counselor, asking questions and receiving feedback on what they did right, while also learning valuable lessons about what they could have done differently.
Why do we think Financial Reality Fairs are a valuable resource for Vermont’s high schools?
The lack of financial literacy within our youth population is a growing problem. Although not alone among other states, Vermont is doing a poor job overall at educating students and preparing them to make smart financial decisions in the real world. In fact, according to the Vermont Financial Literacy Action Plan, roughly 10% (seven out of the 65) high schools in our state have a financial literacy graduation requirement. And in a nation-wide report card from the Champlain College Center for Financial Literacy, Vermont received a “D” grade for its state-level improvement efforts. Vermont credit unions believe that by cooperatively working together with high schools and teachers, we can (and must ) do better for the youth population of our great state.
Want to learn more about Financial Reality Fairs?
The National Credit Union Foundation is the driving force behind Reality Fairs nationwide. The Foundation also created this YouTube video, filmed during a 2015 Reality Fair held at the Connecticut state capitol building, that offers additional insights.
Ready to talk with someone about holding your own Financial Reality Fair in Vermont?
Jenna Schwerdtle is AVCU’s Media Outreach Specialist and the primary point of contact for Financial Reality Fairs in Vermont. We’re scheduling Fairs for the 2016 fall semester and 2017 spring semester right now, so contact Jenna for further details or to inquire about the program.
401 Water Tower Circle, Suite 301
Colchester, VT 05446