Financial Reality Fairs

Watch our informational video to learn more about Financial Reality Fairs brought to you by Vermont’s Credit Unions

Why Financial Reality Fairs?

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 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.

Ready to talk with someone about holding your own Financial Reality Fair in Vermont?

Financial Reality Fairs have been on hiatus since the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020. While it remains possible that we might be able to bring one to your high school in 2022 and beyond, appropriate precautions to maintain the safety of your students, faculty, and the credit union volunteers who staff the Reality Fair will be required.

Email questions to If you’d llike to discuss the scheduling process or want us to contact you and provide more information, please fill out this form:

401 Water Tower Circle, Suite 301
Colchester, VT 05446
802-863-7848 voice
802-864-4391 fax