Local high school students got a “Bite of Reality” when they attended an interactive financial education simulation designed to teach them how to manage money in the morning hours before the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ annual REACH 2023 conference kicked off its opening general session on Tuesday.
(View and download event photos from the REACH 2023 Photo Galleries)
The October 24 event at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas was offered by the Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation, the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada. It aimed 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.
Credit union industry volunteers were able to observe the students trying to manage a monthly budget while experiencing unforeseen challenges.
Through the Bite of Reality App (in Apple Store and Google Play), each of the students received a persona complete with occupation, salary, spouse and family, student loan debt, credit card debt, and medical insurance payments. With the app also providing them with a personalized monthly income, each student went “shopping” for items such as housing, transportation, food, clothing, household necessities, and daycare.
Throughout the event, the students dealt with pushy salespeople portrayed by volunteers from various credit unions. When some overspent, those staffing the “credit union” station provided much-needed assistance.
In 2023, the RMJ Foundation’s “Bite of Reality” program reached 48,000 students throughout the United States thanks to dozens of credit unions in California, Nevada, and across the country that support RMJ. About half of these students — as well as the bulk of donor credit unions and industry participants — are in California and Nevada.
“Every new year, it’s exciting to see how we continue receiving inquiries from credit unions all across the country that are interested in licensing the foundation’s app for their own use,” said Tena Lozano, executive director of the RMJ Foundation. “The app is now being used in 25 states across the nation and making an amazing impact in the world of credit union financial education for kids and teens.”
Lozano announced that during the past year, a new feature was added to the Bite of Reality App called Pay Yourself First. “We’ve always talked about how important saving is, but we never allowed students to actually make the decision to save prior to the ‘spending’ portion of the reality fair,” she said. “Now they have the opportunity to set money aside at the beginning.”
Overall, local students at “Bite of Reality” embarked on a fun, energizing, and educational experience. This onsite session spotlighted to credit union leaders and professionals from across California and Nevada the importance of financial education and RMJ’s mission during the Leagues’ annual conference.
REACH is one of the credit union industry’s premier annual events, attracting leaders and system partners from across California, Nevada and the United States. This year it’s held from October 22 – 26 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, NV!