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Mick VanStaveren of InSphere Insurance Solutions helps teens learn about child care costs during the Bite of Reality event held at San Rafael High School, hosted by Redwood CU and RMJ Foundation.
Transportation table volunteers try to convince students to spend their money on high-dollar sports cars.
Students work on managing their simulated household income and expenses during the event.

TEACHING YOUTH BASICS OF FINANCES
updated 04/30/13 10:25 AM
CUs Celebrate Financial Literacy Month
Celebrating National Financial Literacy Month and National Credit Union Youth Week, the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation and Redwood CU recently presented the "Bite of Reality" program to 85 seniors from San Rafael, Madrone, and Terra Linda high schools in Northern California.

The hands-on simulation program offered by the RMJ Foundation— together with the California and Nevada Youth Involvement Network—was held April 24 at San Rafael High School. The program is designed to teach young people the basics of finance in a fun, interactive way.

Participants were given a fictional occupation, salary, spouse and family, student loan debt, credit card debt, and medical insurance payments. They visited various table-top stations to “purchase” housing, transportation, food, clothing, household necessities, day care, and other needs. In addition, there was a credit union table-top to help with financial needs. They also faced some unexpected expenses and windfalls during the program. While some students made modest spending choices and stuck to a budget, others experienced the unpleasant consequences of spending beyond their means after purchasing luxury vacations and sports cars, leaving them without enough to pay for their necessary living expenses. Many luxury items were returned and more realistic budgets set after students sought financial advice from the credit union table.

At the end of the program, Gary Phillips, the mayor of the city of San Rafael, address the students and emphasize the importance of financial education.

“It is inspiring to watch these young adults make the same type of financial decisions during the Bite of Reality that they will have to make every day as adults, and then learn from those decisions,” said Redwood CU Assistant Vice President of Training & Financial Literacy Lee Alderman.

In addition to the Bite of Reality program, several credit unions in California and Nevada commemorated the month and Youth Week (April 22-27) with a variety of activities, including:

  • At Yuba City High School, 100 students participated in an interactive financial game called Mad City Money hosted by Sierra Central CU. Participants got a folder with hypothetical life factors and then had to shop for the things they needed. Former Sacramento Kings player Harold Pressley, who does special events for Sierra Central, walked around the gym delivering slips of paper to students for unexpected deposits or expenses. Some 17 Sierra Central employees (including CEO John Cassidy as a facilitator) and eight community people volunteered at the event. The credit union has done financial presentations for this school for the last four years but this was the first time it had presented this program.
  • The Golden 1 CU also held a Mad City Money event, for students at Lincoln High School. Some 100 Lincoln students got a taste of real-world budgeting.
  • Bay FCU provided a number of activities during National Credit Union Youth Week, including a kids fingerprinting and fire truck visit at its Watsonville branch, kids Fingerprinting at its Freedom branch, and K9 demonstrations at the Capitola and Aptos branches.

                           
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