High School Students in Idaho and Oregon Get a Taste of ‘Adulting’ with Finances

There’s no better time to teach young people the importance of healthy money management habits than during Financial Literacy Month and Credit Union Youth Month.

One of the best ways to do that? Let them experience a day in the life of an adult with numerous financial responsibilities through the Bite of Reality App.

On Wednesday, April 13, the Southwest Chapter of Credit Unions (representing credit unions in Canyon County, Idaho) proudly joined forces to host a Bite of Reality Fair for 9th graders at Middleton High School. Credit unions that participated included Clarity Credit Union, Idaho Central Credit Union, Horizon Credit Union, P1FCU, and Mountain America Credit Union.

The event guided 317 freshman students through a real-life budgeting simulation. They downloaded the Bite of Reality App onto their personal or school device and were presented with their make-believe occupation, salary, and credit score. They then had to visit nine different stations to make real-life decisions. Would they choose to drive a new luxury car or take the bus to save money? Can they afford a large, medium, or small home or would they need to choose a mobile home for the time being? These are just some examples of the real-life choices students were encouraged to make during this activity.

“I learned that having a credit card isn’t always the best option when trying to stay out of debt. I also realized that having your housing figured out first is one of the most important financial decisions to make,” one student said.

Amy Rovig, President of the Southwest Chapter and Marketing Director at Clarity Credit Union, shared that the best part of the day is hearing students comment on how difficult “adulting” really is.

“Our chapter loves facilitating this event because it’s so rewarding to see the students go through this experience,” Rovig said. “Our goal as credit unions is to provide these students with the reassurance that the credit union staff that they interacted with are here to help them build good saving and spending habits in order to be successful in the future no matter what financial obstacle they might face.”

The Learning Continued in Oregon

On Friday, April 15, Forrit Credit Union hosted a Financial Reality Fair for students at Century High School, building connections with local youth in advance of its upcoming branch opening in Hillsboro.

For three weeks, the credit union’s Director of Experience, Sarah Buck, had been teaching financial education courses to a class of about 70 students. The curriculum wrapped up with the Bite of Reality simulation, allowing those teens to put their newfound knowledge to use.

“Connecting with our communities and providing financial education is important in Forrit’s journey in providing financial well-being for all – especially for our youth,” Buck said. “Over the course of three weeks, I coordinated four financial education topics, from setting financial goals to building credit, and to wrap up all the students had learned, we ended with Bite of Reality. It was such a fun experience for everyone involved and felt great to be back in the schools connecting with the students. We are excited to continue to bring this impactful learning opportunity to Century students and more high schools in our new footprint of Washington County.”

During the event, the students learned an all-too-important lesson: budgeting without a plan is about as helpful as not budgeting at all. One student admitted, “It’s very difficult to budget when you don’t try to plan it out. Just winging it doesn’t work.”

“I had a great experience, and although I thought I was doing a great job at budgeting, I ended up going over my balance and needed to return some things,” another student said. “One of my greatest takeaways was that planning is incredibly important to prevent overspending and that it is wise to keep money aside for emergency expenses.”

Want to learn more about partnering with a local school to host a Bite of Reality Fair in your area? Please contact the GoWest Foundation team.