Scott CU Helps over 1,800 students
More than 1,850 students from 12 area schools had the opportunity to face their financial future in 2012 during CU 4 Reality Financial Education Fairs aimed at helping them learn financial skills they will use the rest of their lives.
Scott Credit Union sponsored the CU 4 Reality Financial Education programs to teach students the important skills that will equip them to handle money responsibly, set and adhere to budgets, and avoid the pitfalls of debt.
During the fairs, the students had to make life-like decisions about handling the expenses of housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, food, and other necessities, according to Scott Credit Union Community Relations Representative Lauren Hoefert.
"Each of the students received a salary based on a career assigned to them. Then they had to complete a budget worksheet to determine how to best use their monthly earnings to cover the cost of necessities," she said. "Putting these budgeting lessons into a realistic exercise like this really teaches them the life lessons that they will face at some point and that their parents face each day in handling a household budget."
Students from schools in O'Fallon, Troy, Collinsville, Madison, East St. Louis, Highland, Mascoutah, Alton, Belleville, and Brentwood, MO, attended fairs conducted by Scott Credit Union representatives at their schools in 2012.
The students had a choice to purchase pets and various electronics, Hoefert noted. "Some of the students were surprised when they made choices to buy things, but didn't have enough money to cover everything when they totaled their budget," she said. "We also stressed to the students that paying yourself first by putting money in savings at the credit union is very important. The program even has a 'Wheel of Reality' that the students spin for either unexpected expenses or a bonus to their earnings. This really emphasizes how important having some money in savings really can be."
The CU 4 Reality Financial Education Fair is a day-long event that gave middle school and high school students a chance to see how career selection impacts their financial well-being and their life choices. Participants were challenged with creating a spending plan based on a salary and juggle needs versus wants to make sure they are living within their means.
Participants ended the fair by meeting with a credit union volunteer that helped them total their budget and make decisions about how to better handle their money.
"All of the students really did a great job of making good decisions," Hoefert said. "When they came up short on money to cover the expenses for the month, they had to make adjustments to make their budget work. This is a great way for students to get a dose of reality before they are put into these situations in real life. I'm sure many of them have a greater appreciation for what their parents face each day and each month."
The fair gave the students the opportunity to apply their in-class studies in a real world setting at the CU 4 Reality Financial Education Fair.
"Spending money has never been easier than it is today, especially for America's young people," Hoefert noted. "Too many students are learning to live beyond their means, because only a fraction of them are learning to manage their personal finances in school."
According to the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, nearly a third of all high school seniors use at least one credit card, nearly half use ATM cards and more than three-quarters have a savings or checking account. However, just 20 percent of high school seniors throughout the country graduate with any formal instruction in personal finance.
"We are really proud that area schools are taking the lead on getting this CU 4 Reality program in their school," Hoefert said. "They understand how important it is for students to learn these skills. The CU 4 Reality curriculum creates a fun and interactive learning environment where students can practice specific financial management skills and learn early on the consequences of getting in over their head when it comes to financial matters."
The CU 4 Reality program was developed by the Financial Literacy Education Committee of America's Credit Union Museum, in conjunction with the New Hampshire Credit Union League.
"We are proud to be the first financial institution in our area bringing this type of experience to the students in our area," Hoefert said. "We encourage other area high schools to call on us to present the program at their schools. It really is an extremely valuable experience for students."
"One of our missions at Scott Credit Union is to provide financial education to our youth," she added. "This is a perfect program to help us further the financial education students are receiving in the normal classroom setting."
Scott Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative that is member owned. The credit union recently gave about $1.2 million back to members through a bonus dividend and loan interest rebate.
Scott Credit Union is open to anyone who lives or works in a 17 county area, including Madison, St. Clair, Monroe, Randolph, Perry, Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Clinton, Marion, Bond, Macoupin, Montgomery, Fayette, Effingham, Williamson, and Jackson counties. Anyone who lives or works in St. Louis County, Missouri also can open accounts at SCU. Additionally, anyone active or retired military also can have accounts with Scott Credit Union.
Scott Credit Union currently has 15 area locations: Scott Air Force Base, East Belleville, Fairview Heights, Collinsville, O'Fallon, Edwardsville, Waterloo, Highland, Caseyville, West Belleville, Millstadt, Mascoutah, Troy, East Alton and its Home Office in Edwardsville.
For details on opening accounts at Scott Credit Union, visit www.scu.org, call 1-800-888-4728, or stop by any of the credit union's branches.