CONTACT INFORMATION Tina Ramos-Ingold,
Media Relations Specialist
Matt Wrye,
Manager of External Media
  (909) 212-6050 (909) 212-6043
  tinar@ccul.org mattw@ccul.org
 
GLENDALE TEENS LEARN ABOUT MONEY MANAGEMENT THROUGH INTERACTIVE SIMULATION
Program Hosted by Glendale-based California Credit Union
December 09, 2013
 

A group of 180 freshmen students from Hoover High School in Glendale got a “bite of reality” on Dec. 4 when they attended an interactive financial education simulation designed to teach them how to manage money. The program was hosted by Glendale-based California Credit Union. It was offered by the Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation, the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada.

The event—which aims to teach young people the basics of finance by having them take a “real world” test drive complete with a job, money and the freedom to make their own financial decisions—was run by employees from California Credit Union, who volunteered their time.

The students—who attend teacher Chuck Saint’s Guidance classes at the high school—were given a fictional occupation, salary, spouse and family, student loan debt, credit card debt, and medical insurance payments. They then visited various stations to "purchase" items such as housing, transportation, food, clothing, household necessities, and daycare. They battled their way past pushy salesmen, unexpected expenses and windfalls, and expensive tastes to keep themselves in the black, and learn how to budget and make wise financial choices. Those staffing the "credit union" station provided much-needed assistance when some overspent.

Some, like 14-year-old Alex Sarkisian, lamented their meager salaries and the high cost of living. He was a television broadcast technician making about $2,000 a month.

“I’m getting a better job and I’m not going to have any debt,” Alex said, when asked what the simulation program had taught him.

Sophia Ramos, 15, was given the occupation of cook while her “husband” was a brick layer. Together they took home $3,373 a month. Still, the cost of having a child was eye-opening for her. “I knew they were expensive, but not that expensive,” she said.

Edgar Abaamyn, 14, said the program gives him a head start on the future. “I never thought you needed to buy all of these things as a grownup,” he said, waving his arm toward the various stations in the room.

That taste of reality is exactly what the event coordinators hope young people take away from the program.

This is so relevant and so powerful,” said Saint, who is head of the Health and Guidance Department at Hoover High School. The Guidance class, which he helped create five years ago, helps transition students from middle school to high school. It touches upon study skills, life skills, and social responsibility.

“I like that it gets kids to figure things out on their own, which relates perfectly to the common core standards in California,” Saint added.

California CU Chief Marketing Officer Ron Stratman thought the program went very well.

California CU Chief Marketing Officer Ron Stratman thought the program went very well.

Stratman added that the program will be offered again next year and it will become a part of the curriculum at the school.

"Giving teens this hands-on opportunity to experience making financial decisions in a low-risk setting gives them a better understanding of the challenges of living on a budget before they have to make those decisions in the ‘real world’," said Tena Lozano, executive director of the RMJ Foundation.

California Credit Union was chartered in 1933 by a group of Los Angeles teachers. The education-related community has built California Credit Union into a billion-dollar federally insured financial institution, serving more than 85,000 members with 13 branch locations throughout Los Angeles County.

The Richard Myles Johnson Foundation, founded in 1958, is dedicated to supporting credit union efforts in spreading the financial literacy message to young people. The Foundation offers the Bite of Reality program, a hands-on simulation program that teaches the basics of finances to teenagers. It also provides scholarships for credit union volunteers and staff to attend seminars and conferences to further their educational and professional development. It is funded through donations from credit unions, League chapters, corporations providing credit union services, and individuals. More information about the Foundation is available at its website at www.rmjfoundation.org.

 
— CCUL —