High school students have a lot to look forward to in the future. That future includes the challenging task of budgeting and managing personal expenses. This is reality though, and understanding how to manage your finances is critical.
Students at Shelton High School took a glimpse into their future by attending a Financial Reality Fair, sponsored by Sikorsky Credit Union. This was the Credit Union’s first ever Reality Fair for students at Shelton High School.
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. They are tempted along the way with nonessential expenses including pet ownership, electronics, 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. Finally, students meet with a volunteer financial counselor to review how well they managed their budget. 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.
“I have seen what happens when people aren’t prepared for their financial present or future,’ mentioned Mike D’Orlando, the Vice President of Operations at Sikorsky Credit Union, who participated in this event as a Financial Counselor.
“This event gives young people something to think about many years before they might experience it, and hopefully they will be ready when that time comes.” Pat Laskowski, Cooperative Work Experience Coordinator added, “This event gave the students an opportunity to see how important budgeting is and will be in their futures. Some realized what their parents go through each month and how tough it can be to make ends meet. I wish this event could be offered to every junior and senior in highschool.”
Along with Sikorsky Credit Union staff, employees from Big Y and Liberty Mutual volunteered time at the event. In addition to Shelton High School, Sikorsky Credit Union holds Financial Reality Fairs annually at 6 other local high schools, with over 1,000 students going participating in the activity. Sikorsky Credit Union has educated thousands of area students in “financial reality” since 2008.