CUNA’s Mad City Money sets stage for Fin. Lit. Month

March 16, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (3/16/16)--National Financial Literacy Month kicks off April 1, and credit unions have a wealth of tools at their fingertips to educate community members, and that includes the Mad City Money program from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

The two-hour financial simulation gives youth a taste of living in the real world and balancing their financial needs, wants and emergencies.

MCMMad City Money is a perfect program for financial literacy month,” said Patty Sigler, CUNA director of consumer education and engagement. “Not only is Mad City Money approved as a financial education resource for students by the Jump$tart Coalition Clearinghouse, it’s incredibly effective because of its hands-on, real-life simulation of what it takes to survive in the futuristic Mad City. That’s why so many credit unions have had great success with this program in schools nationwide.”

The Meridian (Idaho) Press covered a recent Mad City Money event hosted by Capital Educators FCU, Meridian, Idaho. Roughly 50 high school students determined monthly expenditures for food, cars, debt and insurance based on assigned occupations, salaries and marital status.

“It's more difficult than it looks, the decisions. You have to make to make sure you can afford everything,” Erina Fuhriman, a Renaissance High School freshman, told the Meridian Press (March 15). Her game partner, Rocky Mountain High School sophomore Courtney Butterworth, said Fuhriman's expensive taste was straining their budget.

Parent-volunteers also appreciated the experience. Andy Hobson, who ran the child care booth, said students were shocked by the price tag of daycare. “What I like about this is it gets them thinking about what the real world is like,” he said.

“The concept is awesome,” said Matt Schneider, owner of Forward Movement Training Center. “This is an actual area that these kids can take and better themselves for eventual adulthood and decisions they'll have to make. I wish I would have had this when I was a kid.”

Community groups turn to Mad City Money to provide experiential learning as well. Last month, Affinity Plus FCU’s foundation teamed up with the Boys and Girls Club in St. Paul, Minn., for a session.

Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Tompkins County, New York, will hold a Mad City Money simulation April 1--the first day of National Financial Literacy Month. The Jefferson County division of CCE held its recent session in collaboration with the Fort Drum Rural Initiative for STEM Excellence and Copenhagen (N.Y.) Central School.

For more on Mad City Money and how some Madison, Wis., students experienced it, see the video below from the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.