Soo Co-op Credit Union Hosts Financial Reality Fair
For most adults, managing expenses can be a challenge. For high school students, this “reality” is not far away, but many have yet to experience what it will be like. Soo Co-op Credit Union works to help high school students anticipate the future by sponsoring a Financial Reality Fair. Students in the eastern U.P. were able to glimpse into their future by attending a Financial Reality Fair at Sault High School earlier this month.
Students from Sault Area High School & Career Center and Pickford High School participated in this event. This is the ninth year that Soo Co-op has hosted the Financial Reality Fair for students. Since 2011, more than 2,100 students from the eastern U.P. have gone through this hands-on simulation, which helps prepare them for life on their own.
The Financial Reality Fair gives students the opportunity to experience “real-life” finances based on their chosen profession. During the Reality Fair, students visit expense tables to spend their "hard earned money" on real-life choices, such as housing, transportation, food and utilities, while also tempted along the way with non-essential expenses including pet ownership, concert tickets and vacations.
Students also step up to spin the "Wheel of Reality," which increases or decreases their cash flow and simulates unexpected events and expenses that occur in day-to-day life. After students visit all of the expense tables, they balance their budgets to see if they made the right choices to successfully live on their own.
Students then meet with volunteer financial counselors who will determine how well they managed their budget and give suggestions. In the end, students walk away with an awareness of the financial challenges they will face and the experience of maintaining a lifestyle based on a budget.
“It is amazing to watch how students begin to recognize the importance of budgeting and saving, and the ‘aha’ moments they have when they realize they don’t have enough to live the lifestyle they think they are going to have as adults,” said Mary Lynch, marketing director for Soo Co-op Credit Union.
“Our students get a real eye-opening experience as they traverse through the Reality Fair,” said Kellie Greener, career readiness teacher at Sault Area High School and Career Center. “For some of them, this is the first time they realize how expensive life can be; many of them had to re-think some of their monthly choices as they went over-budget with their monthly expenses. The students were able to put real life into practice and walk away with a few more tips and tricks to help them better understand financial responsibility.”
For more information on the Financial Reality Fair, contact Soo Co-op at 906-632-5319.