April 25, 2017 by Evan, eCommerce Specialist
On April 14th I attended CU4Reality, which is a financial literacy fair that culminates the end of the personal finance education classroom program. The fair is where high school students are given a budget and the hands-on opportunity to see the benefits and problems of their personal finance decisions. I took this course and went through the process, so let me share with you how my day went.
Students taking the CU4Reality program had already been through the process of choosing a career, so I was given an example sheet with my career already pre-determined. My personal budget sheet gave me a net monthly income of $2,700. Once I saw my number I figured that I would be able to fit all of my monthly expenses within my budget, and perhaps come out with some money still left over. As I walked through the doors and into the CU4Reality fair, I quickly noticed there were several tables scattered around the auditorium. These tables were “expense” stations; ranging from utilities, car payments, pets, housing, and wellness, among others. I decided I needed to complete my “major” payments first, and then I would determine how to spend any remaining money. I quickly went through the following expenses: Housing, student loans, transportation, insurance, utilities and cable/internet. That came to a total of $1,500, which left me with around $1,200 to use on my remaining expenses.
From there, I decided to go with a basic cell phone plan, and only spend about $375 on groceries and $100 each on gas and clothing to try to save money where I could. In terms of wellness, pets, electronics and entertainment I ended up spending $267 total. All in all, my total monthly expenses came out to $2,599, which left me with a final positive balance of $101. Despite not going over budget, it was surprising I only had that amount of money left over after expenses.
By the end of the fair, I couldn’t help but think of how useful the entire exercise was for the students and how I wished I had been able to do something similar when I was in high school. Being able to manipulate my monthly budget, and add and subtract expenses, was useful for me and I know it was useful to the students at the fair as well. Many of them seemed eager to be there and the actual expense costs seemed eye-opening to them, as I heard lots of “I’m already over my budget” and “I can’t afford this.” This fair was successful in creating financial awareness, and definitely something I would recommend to all who can attend.
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