Whatcom Educational Credit Union (WECU) brought the Financial Reality Fair to Squalicum High School on Wednesday, May 24. The fair was designed to be a real-world simulation to teach students about budgeting.

The free Financial Reality Fair was supported by a grant provided by Northwest Credit Union Foundation (NWCUF).

“We are passionate about financial education.” said Rebekah Duffy, marketing representative for WECU. “Our goal is to help students graduate with good basic banking skills to help cope with impulse spending and be able to define needs, wants and the implications of credit and over drafting.”

During the fair each student was given a career choice, complete with taxes, student loan payments and retirement deducted. Students were required to visit each booth and make purchases in the categories of:

  • Housing and furniture
  • Food and dining out
  • Clothing
  • Electronics and cellular
  • Recreation and lifestyle
  • Transportation

Students visited each booth to make their purchases with loans, savings, or credit cards. WECU staff and volunteers from Opportunity Council and Bellingham Public Schools coached the students at the booths on the impact of their spending choices and gave students real life advice on budgeting and spending.

Students also had to visit the chance booth to get a surprise whether that be an unexpected expense or extra cash. If students needed additional funds they could visit the credit union booth to apply for a loan or visit the part-time jobs booth to get another job.

After the students visited each booth, they met with a final group of WECU volunteers and went over their spending decisions and discussed whether it was a smart purchase.

“Our hope is that the students will now pause for a moment before making a purchase and make better spending choices,” said Duffy.

WECU is able to adjust finance lessons for any age group. Schools interested in collaborating with WECU on financial education information can find more information at www.wecu.com/financialeducation.

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