How Connecticut’s credit unions are investing in the future.
Connecticut Credit Unions in the Community
An important goal of credit unions is to provide financial education to their members in order to help them better manage their money on a day-to-day basis as well as direct funds to savings for the future. How to budget, how to look for the best prices, how to stay out of or at least manage debt—it’s a learning process that all of us have gone through. With the products and services that credit unions offer, members can take steps to control their financial lives not only for today, but also for tomorrow.
An excellent way to accomplish this is to help our youth understand the workings of earning and spending, budgeting, and saving. Developing financial understanding at an early age instills good financial habits to carry throughout a lifetime. For many young people, this can often begin by participating in a Financial Reality Fair.
What is a Financial Reality Fair?
The Financial Reality Fair is an approximately 2½-hour, hands-on experience in which students, after identifying their career choice and starting salaries, are provided a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, and food. And some not-so-basics like entertainment and travel.
Along the way there are many temptations for additional spending, and students must learn to balance their wants and needs to potentially live on their own. After they have visited the various booths covering components of independent living, students will balance their budget, and then sit down with a financial counselor to review their standing.
The Fair is a unique opportunity for each student to experience some of the financial challenges they will face when they start life on their own.
An important feature of a responsible financial lifestyle is saving. In the Financial Reality Fair experience, students are encouraged to save a minimum of 10% of their income, placing 3% in a long-term retirement investment, and 7% in a shorter-term investment. The Financial Counselors explore the importance of planning for future needs and preparing for future financial challenges through savings. The Fair will tempt students to spend their income on “fun,” but the financial counselors will bring the focus back to saving and thrift practices.