The CU 4 Reality Education Program, sponsored by local credit unions, has given students at middle schools in the United States and US Armed Forces installations in Germany a chance to learn about managing finances and how to calculate earnings and expenses. CU 4 Reality is a program cooperatively developed across a number of credit unions and is now in its fourth year. The partnership between the CU 4 Reality program and credit unions has benefitted approximately 9,000 students worldwide.
The program uses an in-class curriculum during the school year to teach participants important skills that will equip them to handle money responsibly, set and adhere to budgets, and avoid the pitfalls of debt. The program culminates with a simulated real-world CU 4 Reality Fair, where the student participants create a spending plan based on a salary, and balance needs versus wants, to make sure they are living within their means.
To complete their course of studies, the students attend a fair where they speak with representatives of auto dealership, cable TV, clothing, food and utility representatives and others to help them understand the many expenses they will face in adulthood.
According to recent reports, nearly a third of all high school seniors use at least one credit card or use ATM cards. In addition, more than three-quarters of seniors have a savings or checking account. However, just 20% of high school seniors graduate with any formal instruction in personal finance.
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 debt when it comes to financial matters.
Developed by the Financial Literacy Education Committee of Americas Credit Union Museum, in conjunction with the New Hampshire Credit Union League, the CU 4 Reality Program, which is in its fourth successful year, gives students the opportunity to participate in a hands-on event that propels them through the personal financial management process, including career selection, budgeting for housing, transportation, luxuries, and more.
At the CU 4 Reality Fair, each student receives a file detailing the personal information specific to their career choice. It includes their monthly gross income and students calculate their take-home pay and create a monthly spending plan as they progress through booths representing various categories of expenses they can expect to incur. Students make decisions about what they would spend on various items such as food, clothing, housing, transportation, insurance, home furnishings, savings, investments, entertainment and credit.
Americas Credit Union Museum promotes the heritage of the credit union movement through the preservation of credit union industry history. Additional information about CU 4 Reality program and the museum can be found at www.acumuseum.org and www.cu4reality.org.