Students at H.D. Woodson High School recently experienced the realities of financial independence at a “Financial Reality Fair” hosted at the school by HEW Federal Credit Union (HEWFCU) to recognize National Financial Literacy Month. Students were randomly assigned careers complete with net and gross monthly income, a credit score, and a checking account with $1,500. They shopped for apartments, electronics, cars and more at various tables where they chose whether to pay cash; use a credit card; or get a loan for major purchases such as cars and furniture.
Students tracked their income and spending on a budget worksheet to easily determine how much money, if any, they had left at the end of the month for savings and emergency expenses. Each student reviewed the results with a Financial Counselor. The Financial Counselors helped students identify budget red flags such as apartment rents and car payments that were too high for their income level.
The Financial Reality Fair concept was created within the credit union industry in response to the growing emphasis on financial literacy education in public schools. At a recent Financial Reality Fair in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation a Math teacher from Capital City Public Charter School reported, “It feels like the students learn a semester’s worth of meaningful material in just two hours.”
HEW Federal Credit Union is taking the ’’Financial Reality Fair concept to the District of Columbia’s Department of Housing and Community Development’s 5th Annual D.C. Housing Expo at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on June 1. Seventy-five students will experience the excitement and challenges of financial independence at the event.
HEWFCU CEO Kathy Geary stresses the credit union’s commitment to taking financial literacy education into the community. “As a credit union we work with members every day who are in financial crisis. We believe we can help our next generations avoid many common financial pitfalls by giving them a dose of reality. The decisions young adults make at the beginning of their financial independence affect their lives forever. We want to help them succeed financially.”