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Imagine a world where you could gain real-world financial experience and make your own financial choices in middle or high school. Members Credit Union has made this a reality through an exciting opportunity called "A Bite of Reality." It is an interactive financial literacy program that allows students to step into a simulated reality and make financial decisions that will shape their future.

During "A Bite of Reality," students are given a pre-selected future with a career, salary, credit score, spouse, and children to care for. They then participate in a fair where they have to make financial purchases such as buying a house, car, groceries, going on shopping trips, and planning family activities. Along the way, they may encounter random events, like receiving money as a birthday gift or having unexpected car repairs.

One crucial aspect of the fair is that each student has credit card debt that they need to manage by making payments at the credit union station. This experience teaches students the importance of budgeting consciously and effectively. They learn to make responsible spending choices and gain an understanding of the challenges that come with raising a family and juggling a career.

Tanya Council, Director of Member Experience at Members Credit Union, says, "These reality fairs serve as eye-opening experiences that bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world financial challenges." This exercise aims to acclimate students to the responsibilities of adulthood and mentally prepare them for life's unexpected events.

The program includes a pre-event planning session for teachers to help prepare the students for the fair. The students are also given a budget worksheet to help them keep track of their purchases and expenses. After the event, a debriefing session is held to discuss what the students learned and how they can apply it to their own lives.

By providing students with this unique opportunity, Members Credit Union is helping them develop essential financial skills and empowering them to make informed decisions as they enter adulthood. The Bite of Reality program serves as a valuable tool for preparing young individuals for the financial responsibilities they will face in the real world.

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