Youth Financial Education: The Connecticut Story
A REAL Solutions® Program Review


"In the [Financial Reality] fair, I learned how expensive life is and what my budget for each month is. And how expensive the way I want to live is. The best part of the program was how realistic it was." Cristian C., Financial Reality Fair participant and Hall High School student

Youth Financial Education – the Connecticut Story is a 2009 publication of the
National Credit Union Foundation’s REAL Solutions® program.

About the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF)
The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) raises charitable funds, runs innovative programs, and makes impactful grants for America’s credit union movement. NCUF’s mission is to “promote and improve consumers’ financial independence through credit unions.”Among the NCUF programs achieving this mission: REAL Solutions® — Helping millions of consumers gain access to affordable financial services, achieve financial literacy, grow savings, build assets, and buy homes. Development Education — Leading training on cooperative principles in the modern consumer marketplace to overcome what credit unions identify as the greatest threat to their future: “the eroding of credit union philosophy.” Social Impact Management — Meeting a “triple bottom line” that benefits credit unions, members, and communities.

About REAL Solutions®
REAL Solutions® is the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation. REAL — “Relevant, Effective, Asset-building, Loyalty-producing”— Solutions® works to help credit unions offer a wide range of products and services that have proven successful in serving working families with low wealth and modest means. Using product/business models created and tested by credit unions, REAL Solutions® disseminates information to credit unions through special meetings, an online impact center at realsolutions.coop, and state and national conferences. In the first two years as NCUF’s signature program, REAL Solutions® was adopted in 30 states and is saving members tens of millions of dollars. It has now become a documented business strategy for credit unions to grow their memberships by serving the underserved. Real people with real needs are finding REAL Solutions® at credit unions.

About the Author
Barbara Bass is Vice President Education and Human Resource Development for the Credit Union League of Connecticut. Barbara has over 35 years of financial service experience in both bank and credit union settings. She has worked at the Credit Union League of Connecticut for the last 12 years with a focus on education, human resources and assisting credit unions in serving low wealth members. Barbara began her career on the front line, moving through internal management programs in several institutions. Accomplishments include: establishing a human resource department, creating internal teller and member service schools, writing policies and procedures for front line staff, creating, staffing and training an internal audit department, creating and overseeing an internal audit program, establishing credit union international partnership and internship programs, and establishing a Financial Reality Fair program. Barbara has presented programs throughout the U.S. and in Trinidad. She is experienced in almost every area of a financial institution giving her an ability to view challenges from both an internal and external perspective. Barbara is a graduate of the University of Washington with a B.A. in Psychology. She received her certification as a Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE) in 2008. Barbara is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management, and CUNA Education Council.

For more information, contact:

REAL Solutions® c/o National Credit Union Foundation 601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 600 Washington, DC 20004-2601 Phone: 800.356.9655, x6770 Email: lkitsch@.ncuf.coop Fax: 202.638.3912 Web: www.realsolutions.coop

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“These Reality Fairs are one way that CT credit unions are fulfilling their mission of ‘people helping people.’ Few students leave high school understanding how to prepare for their future. With these fairs, we are giving many students a taste of what life is like in the ‘real world.’ It’s a great learning experience for all of them, and a real eye opener for most. Many find that they need to change their spending habits or career choice to have the lifestyle that they hope to have as an adult. We are proud to provide the students with this experience that will help to shape their financial future.” Kathy L. Chartier – CCUE, I-CUDE, President/CEO, Members Credit Union

REAL Solutions®, the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), provides support, tested business models and tools to leagues and credit unions helping them to provide new and additional financial products and services to families of low-wealth and modest means. To date, over 800 credit unions in 34 states and 32 state-level trade associations are actively seeking to reach emerging markets including immigrants, young people, persons with disabilities and low-wage households. To bring information to leagues and credit unions in the timeliest fashion, NCUF hosts an online impact center at http://realsolutions.coop, full of REAL Solutions® product innovations, case studies, and tested business models. Some of our state leagues/associations also feature Web sites to give their participating credit unions access to the most up-to-date state-specific information. This article is the sixth installment in a monthly series of interviews designed to provide REAL Solutions® League Liaisons and other league staff up-to-date strategies used by their peers to grow their REAL Solutions® efforts. This interview describes the efforts of the Credit Union League of Connecticut (CULCT) and the Connecticut Credit Union Solutions Foundation to develop and implement a Financial Reality Fair experience for high school students. Please learn more from this interview with Barbara Bass, CULCT’s Vice President—Education and Human Resource Development. 1. When did Connecticut begin participating in the REAL Solutions® Program? We began our partnership in 2007, holding our first introductory conference in March of 2007. We initially started with 18 REAL Solutions credit unions in 2007 and have raised that number through our current program to 40 participating credit unions. 2. What are the major outputs of the REAL Solutions® Program in Connecticut? From 2007 to early 2008, our credit unions focused on reaching out to Hispanic communities and creating an alternative product to answer the payday lending problem. Our credit unions creating a guide entitled Serving the Hispanic Market which was placed on our Web site for all
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REAL Solutions credit unions to access. The group combined to create a “Quick Loan” product as an alternative to payday lenders, along with a Quick Loan Guide to assist credit unions in offering the product to their members. Both of these products have been adopted successfully in several Connecticut credit unions. In 2008 our REAL Solutions credit unions voted to focus on youth—specifically on youth financial literacy. The interest initially was in bringing youth into credit unions, but the discussion quickly expanded to the need for basic financial understanding among Connecticut youth. After considering several options the group decided to focus their efforts in 2008 and 2009 on Financial Literacy Fairs, providing basic financial learning points culminating in a “hands-on” experience for youth to practice the skills they were learning. It was decided to focus on high school students for two reasons: first, they were closest to actually using the skills and information they would learn, and second, the students were at a point in their lives where they would be looking for financial services and it was important for them to be aware of credit unions and understand the credit union difference.

3. How have you incorporated REAL Solutions philosophy in your league and state foundation’s program activities? Assisting low wealth members is a cornerstone of the credit union movement. It is part of our mission to ensure credit unions remember that cornerstone and incorporate those populations as they move into the future. Our initial programs identified specific isolated populations (Hispanic, immigrant, users of payday lenders) and we wanted to expand the impact of our efforts by focusing on a group that is universal – youth. Youth and REAL Solutions are an excellent match, both in need and philosophy. 4. Did you have barriers to success with your REAL Solutions ® Program? The greatest barrier was, and remains, resources. Our first two program efforts (Hispanic Guide and Quick Loan) required time resources; however once the programs were created, the resource demand diminished. The challenge now is ensuring our credit unions are aware of the resources available to them. The Financial Reality Fairs present an on-going challenge for resources – specifically financial and volunteer time. It costs us approximately $15 per student to offer the Fair experience. Volunteer time ranges from 5.5 hours (for the actual Fair day) to over 100 hours (spread over 12-16 months) per volunteer for those involved with planning and advanced preparation. The financial challenge has been met through fundraising efforts including silent auctions and credit unions selling wooden roses to members for Valentine’s and Mother’s Day. The challenge is that due to our success, demand for the Fairs are increasing significantly, and this increases our financial need. We continue to search for additional funding through grants, donations and other opportunities.

5. Tell us about your youth Financial Reality Fairs. What is a Financial Reality Fair? The Financial Reality Fair is a 2½ hour (approximate time) hands-on experience where students, after identifying their career choice and starting salaries, are provided a budget sheet
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requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing and food. Of course, there are many temptations for additional spending and students must learn to balance their wants and needs to live on their own. After they have visited all the booths, students will balance their budget, and then sit down with a financial counselor to review their standing. The Fair is a unique opportunity for each student to experience some of the financial challenges they will face when they start life on their own. An important component to a responsible financial lifestyle is saving. In the Financial Reality Fair experience, students are encouraged to save a minimum of 10% of their income, placing 3% in a long-term retirement investment, and 7% in a shorter-term investment. The financial counselors explore the importance of planning for future needs and preparing for future financial challenges through savings. The Fair will tempt students to spend their incomes on “fun”, and the financial counselors will bring the focus back to saving and thrift practices. The Financial Reality Fairs are financially supported as a REAL Solutions project, through the Connecticut Credit Union Solutions Foundation.

6. Who is the program geared to? Our program is currently geared to high school students, grades 9 – 12. Other credit unions have programs geared toward elementary and middle school youth, but the REAL Solutions group voted to initially focus on high school youth. We have discussed expanding the targeted groups, but need to get the high school programs established first. Additional groups being considered include immigrants; foster youth; GED students; college students (both generally and specific programs that will deal with low wealth adults such as social workers) and incarcerated young adults returning to the outside world.

7. How do you fund the program? In addition to the efforts described above (see question 4.), we have received individual donations from credit union staff and volunteers who expressed interest in sponsoring several students at $15 per student. I have given presentations at chapter events which have resulted in chapter donations as well.

8. How do you find volunteers? Each Fair is an opportunity to include local “talent.” The goal is to include volunteers from credit unions in the surrounding area. We then build out from this foundation to include credit union business partners, local businesses with expertise in specific areas to enhance the topic area (e.g., realtors for the Housing booth; car dealers for the Transportation booth, etc.), and local groups such as Chambers, Rotary or Kiwanis who have an interested, established volunteer

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base to pull from. The experience is so rewarding that once someone volunteers they usually are eager to volunteer again! “The excitement in the air during the Reality Fair was awesome. The kids were really into the whole process and took the exercise seriously. As a volunteer, I was impressed with the other volunteers’ involvement and excitement. They really got into their roles and helped to make this a very special day. I had a chance to talk to some of the teachers and they were SO excited also. It is nice to see such commitment to the kids’ future financial stability. I also had the chance to rally up some additional volunteers for this event. Some of these people had NEVER done any volunteering before. When the event was over they said, ‘This was unbelievable. I am so happy that the League put this event together. I will have to look into some of the other League events more seriously in the future.’” Carol Bayreuther – President/CEO, Hartford Healthcare Federal Credit Union 9. How do you build relationships with the schools? This is an on-going effort. We started by trying to make connections at the city level thinking we could reach the greatest number of schools quickly. What we found is that working at the “grass roots” level, directly with individual teachers, was most effective. We took advantage of our inschool branch relationships, volunteer and member relationships, and personal relationships. As we reached out to these individuals and received a positive response, they became advocates for the Fair, inviting their peers and supervisors into the process. Every teacher that has participated in a Fair has requested to return the next year and increase the number of students they will bring to participate. As word of the Fairs has spread through word of mouth and publicity, more schools and teachers are contacting us to participate in future Fairs. Going forward we will look for opportunities to partner with other resources for volunteers such as the schools (e.g., teachers, student teachers, parent volunteers and/or students that have already been through the Fair) and colleges (i.e., by exploring opportunities to incorporate Reality Fairs into educational programs at the University level).

10. What is the budget for the program? The initial budget is higher since there is the cost of materials that can be used for future Fairs, but on average the cost has been approximately $15 per student. This includes a pad folio with a calculator for each student, printed budget, mechanical pencil to complete their budget, back sacks for students (with the Reality Fair logo – provided as a gift at the end of the Fair and filled with materials from volunteers such as credit union merchandise, business information, brochure created to assist students with living on their own, food goodies, etc.), and volunteer materials (t-shirts, name badges, breakfast pastries and coffee). Initial costs include signage for Fair booths, easels for signs, materials for each booth, and wheel of reality equipment (spinning prize wheel). Costs usually covered by credit unions include printing and paper for materials, miscellaneous planning meeting expenses, and volunteer time.
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11. How many Reality Fairs have you held to date? 2009 was the first year we held Financial Reality Fairs. We held seven Fairs in the spring and one Fair this fall with a total of over 1,000 students in attendance.

12. How and why did you use the program as an advocacy tool with legislators? One of the original goals was to brand youth financial literacy efforts in Connecticut as a credit union effort, highlighting their uniqueness compared to other financial institutions. One strategy was to put these efforts in front of our political representatives by holding a Fair at the state Capitol, inviting schools from all over Connecticut to participate. This Fair was held on November 4, 2009 and drew visits from state officials, state and national political representatives, and upper level school officials. It successfully highlighted our credit union efforts and emphasis related to youth financial literacy, and created opportunities for future partnerships with the state in this area. The Fair succeeded in raising the level of awareness related to credit unions and the fact that credit unions work together (as opposed to competing against each other) to improve financial literacy. Over 70 credit union volunteers from 36 credit unions in the state participated in the Financial Reality Fair at the state Capitol. A video is being created from this Fair that will be used both for political advocacy and to promote future Fairs. “The diverse turnout at the Financial Reality Fair held on 11/4/09 at the Connecticut State Capitol emphasized the desire of high school educators to enhance the base financial knowledge of our youth. As an active volunteer in delivering this and other state Fairs, I have found it to be very rewarding. I’m proud to be involved with this effort to educate our youth now so that they can make sound financial decisions during the rest of their lives.” Jeanne M. Kelly – President/CEO, Capitol Region Federal Credit Union

13. Does Connecticut law require youth financial education? Not at this time. Connecticut credit unions would like to see at least a class requirement for basic financial knowledge and several political representatives in attendance at the Capitol Fair expressed similar views. Credit unions have placed themselves in an excellent position to be part of any conversation related to financial education requirements in the future.

14. What have you learned from implementing the Financial Reality Fair program? The lack of financial literacy in the U.S. is a huge contributing factor to the economic situation we find ourselves currently facing. Education is a primary need to correct the problem going forward. By the time someone is an adult they are often embarrassed to ask for assistance which creates further problems. It is necessary to provide information and education to our youth so they have the skill set to survive and succeed when they are on their own. Providing
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basic financial skills then offering a fun way to practice those skills is what the Financial Reality Fair is all about. Credit unions are in a unique position to embrace this task – improving the financial well being of our members is a cornerstone of the credit union philosophy. What better way to do so than through education when our members and potential members are entering the financial arena? The challenges to getting a program off the ground are great, but the rewards of success are well worth the effort. The additional benefit of credit unions working together for a common purpose has made this a truly unique experience.

15. Is this a program that other leagues should offer? If so, are there materials available for them to use? There are excellent materials available for anyone interested in offering a Financial Reality Fair. Credit unions in New Hampshire and Massachusetts have offered Fairs for many years. When Connecticut credit unions decided to focus on this project, several of us attended Fairs in Massachusetts to experience the event. America’s Credit Union Museum has a program that was written for middle schools that provides both classroom curriculum and sample Fair materials to create your own Fair. We purchased the materials from America’s Credit Union Museum and reviewed materials we observed from other Fairs to create our own version for Fairs in Connecticut. We started planning in February 2008 for the 2008-2009 school year. We decided to break into sub-groups by Chapter and each Chapter would run a Fair at the end of the school year. In spring of 2009, each Fair was run slightly differently as decided by each Chapter planning group. After the school year ended all the groups met and spent the summer creating a Financial Reality Fair Guidebook for future Fairs. The Guidebook focuses on the “how to” of creating a Fair and includes the basic philosophy and reasoning behind holding a Fair, parameters on what can be in the Fair, planning timelines, checklists, sample materials, correspondence, etc. Unlike the material from America’s Credit Union Museum, we do not have sample lesson plans – our Guidebook focuses on the event itself. Participants agreed that the Guidebook would be available to Connecticut REAL Solutions credit unions at no cost and to other REAL Solutions credit unions individually or to REAL Solutions leagues at a minimal cost. All funds received from sale of the Guidebook will be used for future Financial Reality Fairs…always looking at funding resources!
Note: For information about obtaining the Guidebook, please contact Barb Bass at 203.608.7054, or bbass@culct.coop.

16. So what’s ahead for the Financial Reality Fair program? As Connecticut credit unions look toward 2010, we are exploring resource partnerships to expand Fairs within the state. This includes a newly developed partnership with Leadership Northwest, part of the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce. Working cooperatively with credit unions and local businesses, we plan to hold a Fair with high schools in the Northwest corner of the state. This partnership will enable us to bring the Fair experience to nine high schools in a remote part of Connecticut using the relationships already developed by the Chamber for both physical and volunteer resources.
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Appendix A: Reality Fair Brochure

A special thank you to the following credit unions, and Chapters for their financial support and participation in the 2008-2009 Fairs (sponsor credit unions in blue) : Achieve Financial Credit Union American Eagle Federal Credit Union Capitol Region Federal Credit Union Credit Union League of Connecticut Connecticut REAL Solutions Dutch Point Credit Union Enfield Community Federal Credit Union First Bristol Federal Credit Union First New England Federal Credit Union Hartford Chapter of Credit Unions Hartford Healthcare Federal Credit Union Members Credit Union Meriden Schools Federal Credit Union MiddConn Municipal Federal Credit Union Moran-Nixon Chapter of Credit Unions Mutual Security Credit Union Newington VA Federal Credit Union Northeast Family Federal Credit Union Northwest Hills Credit Union Personal Care America Federal Credit Union Seasons Federal Credit Union Sikorsky Financial Credit Union Tobacco Valley Teachers Federal Credit Union Torrington Municipal & Teachers Federal Credit Union Waterbury Connecticut Teachers Federal Credit Union Workers Federal Credit Union If you are interested in participating in a future Financial Reality Fair please contact Barb Bass at 203-608-7054 bbass@culct.coop

Teac hi ng

Yout h

Fi nanc i al

Li t er ac y

Connecticut Credit Unions
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youth financial literacy A Connecticut REAL Solutions project

2008-2009 School Year


“I didn’t expect to learn anything, but this was really cool – I learned I need to plan before I get to school next year!” Student, New Britain HS

over 750

students at 16 schools

HOW DOES A FINANCIAL REALITY FAIR WORK? Credit unions, working cooperatively, contact schools to identify participants The credit union groups provide educational resources to the schools, requesting students provide career choices and beginning salaries for their career choice Day of the fair students receive a budget sheet with net salary after taxes and standard deductions Students must live within their budget, spending money on housing, transportation, food, clothing, etc. Curious? Contact Barb Bass about participating in a Fair. 203-608-7054 / bbass@culct.coop Page 11 of 32

“This event could not have been timed more perfectly for my students. I hope to attend next year, with more students.” Maria M. Golightly, Henry Abbott Tech. HS

Appendix B: Nov. 4, 2009 Financial Reality Fair News Article Connecticut Credit Unions Host Financial Literacy Fair at the State Capitol 36 Connecticut credit unions donated 70 staff and board members as volunteers to provide seven high schools with the Financial Reality Fair experience at the state capitol in Hartford Connecticut on Wednesday November 4 th. Why focus on youth financial literacy? Studies show that the average student graduates from college with over $20,000 in student loan debt and an average of $7,000 in credit card debt. One third of high school students already have a credit card, yet most students do not know how to read a card statement or understand how credit works. 56% of college seniors carry four or more credit cards. In addition, people 18 – 24 years of age average nearly 30% of their money income goes to debt repayment, a figure that has doubled since 1992. These figures naturally lead to the next – bankruptcy for ages 18 -24 has increased 96% in the last 10 years. It is obvious students do not understand how to handle finances. The Connecticut Financial Reality Fair provides students with an opportunity to understand what it takes financial to live on their own. Schools are encouraged to have students study budgeting, investing and credit in advance of the Fair. Each student researches the career they are interested in and then research a starting salary for the position. This information is forwarded to Fair organizers who create a budget for the student based on the information provided. When the student arrives at the Fair they are provided with a budget sheet with their name, career, annual and monthly salary identified. The monthly salary then has taxes, health insurance and 401(k) taken out and a net pay amount is identified. It is the student’s job to live within that salary while paying bills for the month. They are enticed to spend money on ‘fun’ just as they will be in the ‘real world’. The student is successful when they are able visit each booth, pay their bills and have funds left to deposit into their savings. Connecticut credit unions are now focusing on organizing Financial Literacy Fairs for the spring of 2010. For more information on Financial Reality Fairs contact Barb Bass, Credit Union League of Connecticut via email at bbass@culct.coop.

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Appendix C: Volunteer Information

Volunteer Schedule

Thank you for volunteering for the State Capitol Financial Reality Fair!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 300 Capitol Avenue Hartford, Connecticut

Schedule of Events
7:45 to 8:15 AM Volunteers set up and organize booths and materials 8:15 to 8:25 AM Volunteer orientation 8:30 AM 8:45 AM First student orientation First students arrive at Fair

Volunteer Preparation You are about to experience an exciting educational experience, not just for the students, but for you as well. The Financial Reality Fair Committee appreciates your participation in this event – without your support this Fair could not happen, so thank you! Attached is a list of each booth at the Financial Reality Fair so you can learn about the Fair prior to Fair day. Your specific booth will be given to you on Fair day. We will provide a short explanation of each booth and your responsibilities for the morning prior to student arrival on the Fair date. Once the students arrive you will feel like you stepped onto a roller coaster…just hang on and enjoy the ride! Additional information for your experience: Directions From I-84 (east): take exit 48 (Capitol Avenue Exit). Turn right off the exit ramp and drive past the Legislative Office Building. Immediately past the LOB turn right and go past the building and garage to the back of the garage where you can enter the parking area.

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From I-84 (west): take exit 48 (Asylum Street Exit). Turn right at the light onto Asylum. Turn left at the first light onto Broad Street and proceed passed the State Armory. Turn left onto a short access road, then turn left at the end of the road and follow to the back of the garage where you can enter the parking area. Parking Garage parking is available behind the LOB building. Once parked, enter the Legislative Office Building and receive directions at the reception area. Identification When you arrive you will receive a green tee shirt to wear and a name badge that identifies you as a volunteer. We request that each volunteer wear a tee shirt so we are easily identifiable to the students. The ‘go to’ volunteers will have blue name badges for easy identification – do not hesitate to ask them any questions related to the Fair. Breakfast There will be an area set aside with coffee and pastries for volunteers. Each booth will have a minimum of two volunteers so if you need a short break the booth will still be staffed. In addition, there are ‘floater volunteers’ that will assist in areas that are backing up with students. If you need assistance, look for a blue badge. Student Preparation Students will receive a short orientation when they arrive. They have already received a sample budget and information on the Fair to familiarize them with expectations prior to the Fair date. Student Experience Students will visit the Financial Reality Fair booths over a two-hour period and end with a visit to the Financial Counselors to ensure that they have balanced their budgets. When they arrive they will receive their budget, a padfolio which contains a calculator, a pad, a pencil and instructions on the Fair (see attached). Their responsibility is to complete the Fair, visiting each booth while living within their budget. The Fair will include booths that represent the businesses students would go to in “real life” to satisfy needs for housing, transportation, utility service, clothing, furniture, insurance, and more. Students must visit each booth and make spending decisions. Volunteers will record the cost of the option they select at each booth on their budget worksheet and initial the purchase. Students are encouraged to visit booths in random order, just as they would spend money in a random order during the month. You should be prepared to discuss your booth options with the students.

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All students must also visit and spin “The Wheel of Reality”. Students will discover that life is full of surprises and will be given an unexpected event – some positive and some negative – to factor into their budget. After visiting each booth, the student must balance their budget, then visit with a volunteer Financial Counselor who will verify the student successfully met their needs and stayed within their budget. Volunteers will also circulate through the booths to assist students with decisionmaking, keep the students moving and answer any questions. Students will be asked to complete a brief Post-Fair Survey before they leave and will be given a gift packet as they exit. Raffle drawings will be conducted throughout the event. Again, thank you for volunteering for the Financial Reality Fair at the Capitol. Your participation and support will make an impact on student financial literacy in Connecticut.

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Booth Overview
Booth Materials Each booth will provide laminated cards with the specific options for that booth identified on the card(s). In addition to identifying the student’s options, the card will identify any related expenses (i.e., pet also has expense for pet food, etc.). Each booth will have a minimum of three copies of each card, two for student review and one for volunteer reference. Prior to the Fair each volunteer will review the booth options with an experienced volunteer to ensure they understand the purpose of the booth and the expectations for their performance at the booth. Booths The following is a list of booths to be offered at a Financial Reality Fair. The booth will be listed as required or optional. A required booth must be offered at every Fair. An optional booth may have the booth contents combined with another booth, or be deleted based upon the number of volunteers required. The booths are listed in alphabetical order. Charity – optional Giving back to the community is an important value that the Fair supports. Students are given the option, in advance of the Fair, to bring a donation for the specific Fair’s charity in lieu of budgeting an expense. The donation represents their contribution to the charity during the month. If the student does not bring a donation then they are encouraged to donate a part of their income. Clothing – required Clothing options are broken into four categories: professional; professional uniform; casual and casual uniform. Students choose the category that reflects their career needs. The costs are based on the annual purchases for work and ‘play’ clothing divided by 12 and cleaning costs (both dry cleaning and washer/dryer expense). Credit Union (loans) – required Many people have a ‘buy now, pay later’ mentality. They don’t understand the cost of ‘paying later’. If the student needs a loan to purchase a vehicle or a personal loan, they must go to the credit union to see if they qualify for the loan. The credit union will review lending options and show how the student’s credit score (assigned on the budget worksheet) affects their ability to get credit as well as the cost of that credit. The credit union will also provide information to students on lending options when the student has high interest loans, numerous loans, and/or extended credit card loans. It is important that volunteers that are familiar with lending and have the skills necessary to review the student’s debt status and make meaningful recommendations to assist the student.

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Credit Union (savings and investments) – required Financial responsibility is an important skill to learn early. Students are required to go to the credit union to open a savings and/or retirement account. They are strongly encouraged to save a minimum of 10% of their monthly salary, divided between longterm (retirement) investments and short-term savings. Each student is already saving 3% of income through their company 401(k) plan. Volunteers at this booth should have experience with savings accounts and able to discuss the importance of planning through savings with the student. Electronics and Appliances – optional Some of the strongest monetary temptations are electronic. This booth offers a variety of luxury items including electronic games, ipods, cameras, televisions, laptops and computer systems. Students are tempted to purchase fun items that many consider ‘must haves’. Housing choices may not have appliances included. In those situations the student must purchase a minimum of the missing appliance (refrigerator, stove, etc.). In addition, this booth provides the ability to purchase smaller kitchen and cleaning appliances. Financial Counselors – required The final step in this experience is a visit to the Financial Counselor. At this point the student visited all the other booths, balanced their budget and has identified if they were able to live within their means. The Financial Counselor will review the budget and provide counseling with the student if they need to make changes to meet their expenses. This booth is the key education point in the Financial Reality Fair experience. The volunteers that staff this booth should be seasoned, well qualified credit union personnel able to provide actual financial counseling. Fitness & Gym and Hair/Nails/Spa – optional Physical health is an important focus after school. The student no longer has access to equipment and classes to maintain physical health and needs to look for other resources. This booth provides both health club plans and gym equipment options to ensure physical health. What were once basics when you lived at home quickly become luxuries when you are living on your own. This booth provides temptations with services that many high school students consider ‘must haves’. Food – required Students are offered various food plan options, reflecting different levels of food quality and number of instances of eating out. Every student will have a food expense, even those that chose to live at home.

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Furniture – required Options at this station vary from the basics (mattress and bed frame for furnished apartment) to fully furnished rooms, tempting the students to make that first home a ‘show place’. Even students that are living at home are required to save at least $50 in anticipation of buying furniture when they move away from home. Housing – required A housing environment is a basic need which every student must address. The choices are varied and the ‘extras’ associated with the different choices are tempting. Students must choose a place to live, considering costs and location. Choices include: renting a room; a one bedroom apartment; a two bedroom apartment; a three bedroom apartment or living at home (with a rent paid to the parents). Insurance – required (combined with Transportation and Housing) Often considered a ‘hidden’ cost, students will purchase insurance for various needs as applicable. This booth may also handle fees associated with various careers, including malpractice insurance and professional fees. The booth will offer auto and rental insurance. Jobs (part time)/Education/Training – optional Students may find that the only way to meet monthly expenses is by increasing income. This booth identifies various options for part time employment and assists the student in determining whether their career allows time for another job. Many jobs need additional education to advance or the student may want to change their career and need additional education to advance. This booth offers additional training or educational opportunities to enhance the career earning opportunities for various careers. The student may choose to spend money on additional training or education to work toward increasing future income. Night Life – required and Travel/Shows/Concerts/Sporting Events – optional Life is not all work, and the Fair would not be realistic without including a plan for some type of nightlife. This booth covers a variety of options, from DVD night at home to expensive nights out. An area that quickly depletes a paycheck, students learn that even fun must be budgeted. Who can resist a great deal on fun? This is temptation at its strongest, with a variety of unique opportunities for a relaxing time. Pets – optional One sign of independence is purchasing that pet that was never allowed at home. Students are tempted with a variety of options from snakes to dogs. Once purchased, students learn of hidden costs including vet bills and food.

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Transportation – required Everyone needs a way to get to work and back. This booth offers a wide variety of transportation choices including public transportation. Where the student lives may narrow the choice but it is up to the student to find the right fit. Once transportation is chosen, the student may need to go to the credit union for a loan and/or insurance to insure the purchase. All students must assume they need new transportation. Transportation choices should be coordinated with the Insurance booth. Costs include the monthly cost of the vehicle, gas and property tax based on the available options. TV/Internet/Phone and Cell phones – required Students are offered a variety of plans for TV, Internet and/or phone connection. They can purchase separate services, or bundle the services at a discounted price. TV and phone are optional purchases. Internet is required unless the student purchased a laptop (assumption is that the student can connect at outside source at no cost). All students need a communication option and plan. This booth provides cell phone plan options as well as purchasing/upgrading current phones. The student must choose a plan with a phone. Utilities – optional Choice and cost of utilities is dependent upon the choice of housing. The utility volunteer will review costs with the student and identify cost saving opportunities that can be used when they are making these choices in the ‘real world’. Wheel of Reality – required Every budget needs room for those unexpected situations. The Wheel of Reality represents the unknown. Choices are positive as well as negative, reflecting opportunities in the real world. Each student is required to spin the wheel once.

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Appendix D

Hall High School’s Financial Reality Fair Student Experience
“I just wanted to thank you again for the wonderful event that you and all of your volunteers put together for the students. They really appreciated it and definitely benefited from the experience. The students put together a PowerPoint presentation of what they learned and I thought I would share some of what they had to say with you. As you will see from the PowerPoint, the students valued the experience, took it seriously and learned by doing. This handson simulation will be something that they won’t soon forget and hopefully the lessons learned will stay with them as they move into adulthood. So thank you again, from myself, Maryanne Taft, Sheila Nussbaum, and all of the Hall High students that attended.” Angela Gegetskas – Business Education, Hall High School

Thank you to the Credit Union League of Connecticut!
Thank you to the volunteers who worked so hard to put this event together for us! Thank you for the gifts you gave us such as the padfolio, the backpack and the snacks! Thank you for the raffle prizes! Most importantly thank you for the experience, it was valuable to us!

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Here is what some of our Hall High School students had to say….

I’ve learned on how to save money and to be more careful on what I spend. The most important thing out of all is to have money to pay for my College! Make sure to save money in case of an Emergency!

Melissa M.

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The best part of the program
The best part of this program was finding out how much money I will be earning and how hard the people tried to get you to buy something. Also seeing how much things cost in the world was an eye opener.

Nicole H.

What did I learn?
How to manage my money more wisely I gained a new perspective to what life will be like as a working adult How important it is to realize the importance of saving for what you really want
Samantha H.

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In this experience I learned that sometimes you don’t realize how much you spend just because you have the money right there and then. This experience taught me that I need to balance my money from what I earn to what I need to pay my bills. Josmara P.

I learned from the financial planner that it is good to pay off your credit card sooner so that you have a lower interest rate. Also that saving a good amount of money each month in your saving account is an excellent strategy to save for future needs. I learned that there is more than just paying off the car itself. I would have to pay taxes, car insurance, car loan, and gas each month. Abraham M.

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I Would Recommend This Fair
I would recommend this for teenagers that are planning on living on their own to see how hard it is to steer away from being in debt and thinking of the proper way to budget your money. Jaleel T.

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By going to this financial reality fair I learned several things. The most important thing that I learned was that I really need to think about what I am buying and if I really need it in order to survive. I realized that I need to start saving some of my money for future costs and not using it all at once. For example, when I get paid from work, hold some of the money or put it in the bank in order for me to have money when I need it the most. Brandon B.

What I learned…
I learned how important it is to budget and spend your money carefully so you are able to maintain the lifestyle you desire. I learned a lot and look forward to applying the skills I acquired in the real world Tom E.

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I learned that starting out of College I am not going to be able to purchase anything I want and should learn to be better at budgeting.

Bryan S.

What I learned…
I learned what it takes to budget your money and that you need to keep a watch over everything you buy.

Emily M.

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What I Thought Of The Fair
I would highly recommend this event to any young adult. It shows you the reality of the situation that you would be in in your life, decisions that you would have to make, and mistakes as well. Maia G.

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What I learned
At the reality fair, I learned to save my money. I realized that once all of your expenses add up you don’t have a lot of money left.

Caitlyn L.

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The Financial Reality Fair was interesting and fun but it was also frustrating at times. It made me problem solve and overcome obstacles. I would recommend this to other students even if it is difficult. Courtney D.

The Best Part
The best part was that the fact that is was like real life and it gave you a chance to see what life would be like if you had a stable career and were out on your own. It also taught you a lot of things like you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have fun.
Summer L.

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This is what I learned
At the reality fair, I learned to save my money. I didn’t realize how much money you have to spend on things that you need once you grow up. Caitlyn L.

This is what I learned
It’s better to have a roommate when you are starting off so you can cut expenses in half.
Dan G.

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This is what I learned
In the fair I learned how expensive life is and what my budget for each month is. And how expensive the way I want to live is. The best part of the program was how realistic it was.
Cristian C.

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This is what I learned
I learned that to save money you can’t buy the most expensive thing available, you have to buy what you can afford, not what you want.
Eddie B.

Hall High School Thanks You!

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