Over the course of three days, more than 1,200 Racine Unified School District juniors visited the Roma Lodge to get a look at their future with the help of Educators CU, Mount Pleasant, Wis.
Students use Reality Check Day to practice managing finances after graduation. They use the Reality Check Day app – called Bite of Reality – to pick a career. They then get a monthly income based on regional incomes for their job and are randomly assigned a spouse, children, pets and a credit score. All of that information sets the stage for the simulation.
Once their profile is set, students then start shopping. Students pick out transportation, housing, childcare, etc. They can’t have a negative balance if they want to check out for the day. If they get to the end and need some money, they’ll have to go back and make some changes, like selecting a two-bedroom apartment instead of a three-bedroom house. Students say the experience is preparing them to plan for life.
“You have to be able to save for your family,” said Park High School’s Breeon Carothers. “Take care of your priorities before your wants.”
Educators Credit Union’s goal is for students to learn those lessons in a low-stakes environment.
“We want students to understand budgeting and what things cost in the real world,” said Director of Community Engagement Victor Frasher. “Hopefully, they take away how important it is to make decisions based on your income and personal situation. Those aren’t lessons they can afford to learn in the real world, so we try to create a place for them to practice those skills safely.”
Reality Check Day has been a part of the Academies of Racine curriculum since 2018, but RUSD first partnered with Educators in the mid-2000s. Since then, the program has taught budgeting and money management to thousands of students.
Educators Credit Union was recently awarded the 2019 Governor’s Financial Literacy Award for Reality Check Day. The honor is awarded based on whether the program included innovative implementation, demonstrated measurable results, showed collaboration with partners, and whether the effort focused on needs-based groups. It is the second Governor’s Financial Literacy Award Educators Credit Union has received in the last three years. The credit union was also awarded one for its use of the financial literacy program EVERFI in 2018.
Educators Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial institution serving more than 195,000 members. Educators membership is open to anyone who lives or works in Dane, Green, Jefferson, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Rock, Walworth, Washington, or Waukesha counties.