Financial Reality Fair

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Baltimore City Students Participate in Financial Reality Fair Hosted by MECU and MD|DC Credit Union Association

March 20, 2019

More than 400 students from Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School (MERVO) in Baltimore City had the opportunity to learn first-hand about the financial challenges they may face as adults at a Financial Reality Fair hosted by MECU and the MD|DC Credit Union Association.

 The Financial Reality Fair was designed to teach students basic money management skills that are key to economic and career success. Students were assigned a career and monthly salary, and had to figure out how to live within their means while paying for basic necessities such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing and food. The event kicked off with remarks from MERVO Principal Jada L. Langston, along with MECU President & CEO John Hamilton and MECU CFO & Senior Vice President Adrian Johnson.
“We are thrilled to be able to partner with the MD|DC Credit Union Association to help the students of MERVO start thinking about their financial future,” said MECU President & CEO John Hamilton. “There is no better time than now for students to learn about budgeting and smart money habits before they venture out on their own.”
As Baltimore City’s largest credit union, MECU is committed to providing financial education opportunities for young people and adults. As part of those efforts, MECU hosts and participates in events throughout the year that aim to improve the financial literacy of Baltimore residents.
The MD|DC Credit Union Association, the regional trade association serving credit unions in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., area assists its members in part by providing education sessions and organizing events such as Financial Reality Fairs at schools throughout the region.
“The Reality Fair helps students prepare for the future by finding out what it’s like to have a job, a salary and expenses,” said John Bratsakis, President/CEO, MD|DC Credit Union Association. “It’s truly a unique opportunity for each student to experience first-hand the impact financial choices can have on their lives.”

At the Financial Reality Fair on Thursday, MERVO students visited mock merchants such as apartment leasing agents, auto dealers, insurance agents and more, to obtain goods and services needed in everyday life. As in the real world, there were opportunities for additional spending on entertainment, pets, vacations and other non-essentials. There was even an element of surprise with a “wheel of reality” that could throw a curveball into their budgets with an unplanned expense or a windfall of cash.
To make sure their budgets added up, students reviewed their budget with a financial counselor. Students were encouraged to save a minimum of 10 percent of their income, placing 3 percent in a long-term retirement investment, and 7 percent in a shorter term investment.
Approximately 80 volunteers were on hand throughout the Reality Fair to support the students and then help them in reviewing their decisions, balancing their budgets, and deciding how they could improve their money management skills. Representatives of MECU, the MD|DC Credit Union Association, and MERVO parents and teachers served as volunteers.