Reality Fair Sets Financial Expectations

Reality Fair Sets Financial Expectations
Posted on 03/29/2019
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At the HSJA Reality Fair this week, HSSD 7th-8th grade students worked with volunteers organized by the Diamond Lakes Federal Credit Union to simulate the planning and management of personal finances based on a set income. Volunteers from students and staff at the HSJA and across the HSSD, as well as the Hot Springs community, served as an array of salesmen, experts, and financial advisors. Diamond Lakes Federal Credit Union hosts events like these across Garland County to help set realistic financial goals and expectations for individuals of all ages.

At the Reality Fair, each participant is assigned a random occupation with a net monthly take-home pay. Students must then visit booths to simulate setting up their personal finances, which could include: renting an apartment, setting up utilities, covering student loans, financing a car, allowing for the purchase of clothing, getting a pet, buying a television, establishing a savings account, joining a gym, etc. They then meet with a financial advisor for an interactive, real life discussion about whether the budget they have built is sufficient to cover all expenses.

Volunteers at booths are encouraged to sell and solicit for vehicles, services, fees, and other items that teens may not necessarily need. The conversation with financial advisors becomes quickly eye opening when many attendees realize that student loans can knock out opportunities to own a brand new car, or even require a part-time job. Participants are challenged to take a serious look at weighing the value and necessity of each item they have placed in their budget.

Teachers are provided with a pre- and post- Reality Fair Guide so that students reflect about the event as a group. Before the fair, they discuss “wants” versus “needs,” ask about personal opinions regarding the cost of housing and vehicles, and in general discuss how perceivably hard balancing a budget will be. Following the event, students provide feedback about whether their budget needed tweaks, why they may or may not have overspent on items like new cars or clothing, and are asked for general talk regarding how much higher the cost of living is.than many teens expect.

Thank you to Diamond Lakes Federal Credit Union and all volunteers, staff, and students for working with our HSSD 7th-8th graders. Thank you to Mrs. Karina Miller for coordinating all student participants and for initiating the event and partnership with Diamond Lakes Federal Credit Union. Thank you, too, to the HSJA Library Staff, who are always gracious hosts of an array of HSJA events and offerings. The HSWCHS also hosts an excellent Reality Fair event - however, this was the first Reality Fair to be hosted at the HSSD for 7th-8th grade students.

Find a full Reality Fair photo album, here.

Learn more about our Hot Springs Junior Academy, here.

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