Students Experience Real-World Personal Finance

CUNA’s Community CU and Growth Conference includes a financial literacy simulation for local high-school students.

November 6, 2011

During a Mad City Money simulation at CUNA's Community Credit Union and Growth Conference, high-school students from Lincoln High School, San Francisco, took on the roles of adults. They received jobs; monthly incomes; families; and expenses, such as credit card debt, student loan debt, or medical insurance payments—all while building their personal budgets.

Credit union attendees posed as merchants, and worked to sell the students everything from cars to expensive vacations. Did the student-members make the right decisions within their budgets, leaving enough money to deposit with the credit union for savings or retirement accounts? As part of the experience, conference attendees also served as credit union advisers to the students.

Your credit union is the best source to help you create a plan and start to save, Courtney Derby told the students when the simulation concluded. Derby is manager of membership development at San Francisco Federal Credit Union. For future spending, "think about your wants and needs," she advised. "Begin to budget your money now and don't wait until you graduate."



CU staff in Mad City consult with their members on ways to budget for savings and retirement accounts.



This "police officer" knows just what he wants: "I want a cell phone and a computer." And merchant Sandy Jelinski, president/CEO, Lake Michigan CU, Grand Rapids, authorizes his purchase.




Merchant Larry Lanning, director, Numerica CU, Seattle, advises this CU member-shopper that she should always buy the high-end home furnishings because they'll last longer. She wasn't fooled, telling him, "But I have credit card debt." She opted for less-expensive purchases.