More than 150 students from Renaissance Academy Charter School, Phoenixville, participated in a Financial Reality Fair sponsored by TruMark Financial® Credit Union, on Friday, Nov. 22.
Instead of traveling through the gym doing stretching exercises, students attempted to make their salary stretch to pay for fundamentals such as housing, transportation, insurance, and food. Given a budget worksheet complete with a career and net pay, students visited 14 booths and had to make some tough decisions on how they spent their money.
In a society used to making purchases online, it is easy for consumers to lose track of how much is being spent. Community members, employees from UFCW Local 1776 Federal Credit Union and TruMark Financial, and parents manned the booths and guided students as they learned about credit scores and how to manage monthly payments.
Everyone faces unexpected situations, and as part of the exercise students spun the Wheel of Reality which represents the unknown. A spin of the wheel could bring good fortune such as a holiday cash gift or bad fortune such as unexpected car repairs. Following their selections, students met with financial counselors who reviewed their budget worksheets, checked students’ calculations, and provided guidance if students needed to make changes to meet their expenses. These changes might include eliminating a purchase or getting a part-time job.
Students left with a new appreciation for their parents’ skills of budgeting. “This exercise was stressful,” said junior Sophia Harbison Ricciutti. Another student commented, “I used to think my mom was stingy. Now I realize she is generous (with her money).”