Financial Reality Fair at Muncy
On Wednesday Oct. 9, Muncy High School was host to the Financial Reality Fair sponsored by the PALCO Credit Union. Throughout the morning, students from grades 10-12 had the opportunity to participate in the fair. The Muncy Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) helped to organize this event.
Pennsylvania credit unions recognize the need for financial literacy. To assist educators and parents in their efforts to teach this vital, life-long skill, the credit union community banded together to offer the Financial Reality Fair experience.
The Financial Reality Fair provided students with a hands-on budgeting experience to gain practical knowledge about personal financial management in a “real world” environment, and is designed to teach students the value of using money responsibly.
This real-world exercise instructed students to choose a career and salary customized for their geographic area, and then budget their monthly expenses to make ends meet. In the exercise, students must find a place to live, obtain transportation, and pay for food and other essentials.
Individuals visited with the 30 fair volunteers, which included credit union employees and local area businesspeople, such as realtors, auto dealers, insurance agents and more to purchase goods and services needed in everyday life. As in the real world, entertainment opportunities and other non-essential services were made available.
Students also spun the “Wheel of Reality” to receive one of life’s surprises, such as an unexpected cash gift or the expense of a flat tire. Students documented their income and expenses using sample checking and savings accounts, a credit card, and a loan during the exercise and worked to balance their monthly budget, reviewing their final budget with a Financial Counselor.
PA Credit Unions plays a vital role in bringing this interactive learning experience to students, clearly demonstrating the “credit union difference.” Many greatly appreciated this insight into the financial reality of life and in the process learned about three pillars of the American Enterprise system: profit, freedom of choice, and the right to private property.
Senior Sacha Alvarez exclaimed, “I enjoyed how life-like this fair was and how with my profession, I can end up with a lot of take-home pay!” This shows one aspect of profit: a surplus, or as Sacha called it, her “take-home pay.”
It was the goal of all participants to have a surplus after budgeting for the month; otherwise the students had to get a part-time job to make up the deficit. The event excelled at creating a realistic simulation for the students, and for many, it served as an introduction to budgeting. As Collin Cowfer, a senior, remarked: “It pays to save your money!”
Maria Paternostro, a sophomore, noted, “We have the right to choose how we want to live but we need to make sure we can afford it.” This demonstrates the freedom of choice that consumers possess when it comes to purchasing products, but it also teaches the constraints of a budget when it comes to what is affordable.
Ben Johnson, a senior, said “It was interesting to see how I would fare in the world while trying to support a decent lifestyle.” The right to private property allows consumers to own and consume possessions as they please. However, the fair taught the students that their limited monthly stipend might not allow them the lavish lifestyle that they desire.
FBLA was proud to host all the volunteers who made the fair possible and would like to thank PALCO Credit Union for sponsoring the fair. Many of the volunteers help to host the fair at other schools throughout the year, and love to do so. The Financial Reality Fair taught the students of Muncy High School valuable lessons about American enterprise and financial literacy that will certainly ‘pay off’ in the long run.