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Guadalupe CU Improves Financial Health of High School Seniors

Wed, Dec 21, 2016

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Over 1,000 students in three northern New Mexico cities had the opportunity to get hands-on experience with personal finance and money management through Guadalupe Credit Union’s CU 4 Reality™ Financial Education Fair recently. Guadalupe Credit Union received support for this project from the National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) through a grant this year.

“Spending money has never been easier than it is today, especially for our young people,” said Winona Nava, President and CEO of Guadalupe Credit Union. “Too many students are learning to live beyond their means, because only a fraction of them are learning to manage their personal finances in school. We felt a hands-on experiential learning exercise would help make it more real than just numbers in a book.”

A Reality Fair is an interactive financial literacy tool for high school students to prepare them for their financial life after graduation. Student participants receive a folder detailing his or her personal information specific to their career choice. After calculating their take-home pay, they create a monthly spending plan as they progress through booths representing various expenses they may incur, including food, clothing, housing, transportation etc. Based on their lifestyle scenario, they will also see alternatives provided and make choices based on their own values, goals and resources.

About their fairs, Diane Sandoval, Guadalupe CU’s Financial Empowerment Coaching Manager, said, “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 getting in over their head when it comes to financial matters. We had quite a few students who had to get new jobs or start over because of their initial spending decisions. The fair was a real wake-up call for some of the kids.”

Guadalupe Credit Union was able to reach 1,050 students through Reality Fairs with the help of staff and community partners. Aside from the Foundation, they received assistance and volunteers from various organizations such as Northern New Mexico Schools Credit Union, Zia Credit Union, CUNA Mutual Group, Horace Mann Insurance and the Credit Union Association of New Mexico.

“The reactions and feedback from the students was telling,” exclaimed Nava. “They said things like, ‘It’s better to stay in school so I can get a good job,’ ‘Now I know what my parents go thru,’ and ‘I learned what you really need and don’t.’ Guadalupe Credit Union wants fill the need we see for financial education and continue to provide the information these kids need to become strong, financially healthy adults.”