On October 25, approximately 35 students in Carson High School’s MASH (Mandatory Academic Study Hall) program participated in “Bite of Reality”, a hands-on simulation program in which students were given a fictional occupation, salary, spouse and family, student loan debt, credit card debt, and medical insurance payments. The students then visited various table-top stations to “purchase” housing, transportation, food, clothing, household necessities, day care, and other needs.
In addition, there was a “credit union” to help with financial needs, and students also faced some unexpected expenses and windfalls, such as sudden car trouble and inheritances or coupon savings.
“Bite of Reality” is offered by the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation—the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada—together with the California and Nevada Youth Involvement Network—which promotes financial education to young people in the two states. The event was hosted at Carson High School by the Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ Northern Nevada Chapter and featured volunteers from chapter credit unions, including Greater Nevada Credit Union and Financial Horizons Credit Union.
“Getting to work with the students and help them understand everything that goes into their parents’ monthly budgets was such a great opportunity,” said Kate Robinson, a youth financial educator with Greater Nevada Credit Union. “The feedback from the students was really positive. It was definitely an eye-opener for them. They started out with big dollar amounts for their monthly salary, thinking they had money to burn, and by the time they reached the end of the simulation, nearly all were surprised by how little was left.”
“’Bite of Reality’ gives teens a hands-on opportunity to experience making financial decisions and get a better understanding of the challenges of living on a budget,” said Tena Lozano, executive director of the RMJ Foundation. “And, since it’s conducted in fun setting, it keeps the teens engaged and enthusiastic throughout the program.”