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Students get taste of real world with financial matters

By Staff | Nov 12, 2015

By BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Tom Rachael, President of PALCO Federal Credit union (left) and John P. Kebles (right) from the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association help Muncy High School student, Lyndsi Stugart (center) with the Money Wheel during the Financial Reality Fair.

MUNCY – Juniors and seniors at Muncy High School got a hands on “taste of the real world” when it comes to money. On Thursday, October 15 during International Credit Union Day, a financial reality fair was held at the school’s cafeteria to allow students to experience a life engaging lesson on managing money.

Sponsored by the Susquehanna Valley Chapter of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, members assisted the students on how to live within their means. “For the purposes of the fair, we gave each student a career of their choosing, and gave them a goal to improve their savings after paying all their bills,” explained Kate Smith, an executive assistant with Horizon Federal Credit Union.

Assuming they have already graduated and have no car, a monthly budget worksheet of their career choice with a gross annual salary and monthly net take home pay with a randomly assigned credit score were given to each student as they navigated their way to complete their monthly budgets. Certain booths represented required expenses for purchase decisions.

“This is a highly effective winning program consisting of simulations in a fun eye opening experience,” said Michelle Hart, Marketing coordinator for PALCO Federal Credit Union.

This is the first time that Muncy High School has been part of this Financial Reality Fair according to Heather Zimmerman, Business Education teacher and FBLA adviser at Muncy High School.

By BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Juniors and seniors at Muncy High School experienced a Financial Reality Fair hosted by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association on Thursday, October 15. They were able to learn some money management challenges and financial strategies faced after high school.

Some of the areas touched upon included housing, transportation, health and wellness, taxes, clothing and food. Students also were able to participate in the “Wheel of Life” where they would spin to see if they would lose money, for example to fix a flat tire, or gain money such as receiving some extra cash from a relative or part time job. All of this would go into their worksheet. The biggest revelation came when they discovered their monthly phone bills and internet access. “It is a reality check,” said Zimmerman. “Most of them wanted an iPhone. It’s all about budgeting.”

At the end of each station, students were able to add up what they were spending each month, then visited with a credit union representative to get counseling and advice on their “financial situation.”

“They could be at a loss, or have money left over,” said Linette Zarzyczny who is on the board of directors from PALCO. “They could have a 3 percent savings every month or pay down student loans, or potentially buy a house.”

Olivia Wetherhold a senior from the FBLA who chose marketing as her student budget career said, “This has been an eye opening experience to see what life would be like after college.”

“I had money left over to do things, but thought it was a struggle to get there,” replied student Sarah Ayers who chose business management. “There were a lot of high dollars coming out of my account.” She was referring to her phone, the internet and television. When she got to the Money Wheel she had to take out $150 because her computer crashed.

Lyndsi Stugart, a junior, chose nursing and said she earned $100 overtime and also came out ahead. Chris Titman thought his housing costs would be higher and was surprised to see rent was $410 for his career as a chemist, and Noah Hoffman who chose a physician assistant, said that transportation was more than he expected after he added insurance and taxes.

Nine credit unions were represented for the day at the school, many traveling a distance to volunteer from their day jobs. “Muncy is one of 30 of these fairs scheduled across the state,” said April Dunn from Citadel who came from Exton, PA.

This is the first financial fair held here in Lycoming County and reinforces what the students are learning in the classroom if they chose personal finance which is an elective at Muncy High School according to Zimmerman.