Financial Reality Fairs

Connecticut Financial Reality Fairs are a collaborative effort by credit unions, the Connecticut Credit Union Charitable Foundation, and the League.

A Financial Reality Fair is a 2.5 hour hands-on experience in which students, after identifying their career choice and starting salaries, are provided a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, and food. Of course, there are many temptations for additional spending, and students must learn to balance their wants and needs to live on their own.

After they have visited all the booths, students will balance their budget, and then sit down with a financial counselor to review their standing. The fair is a unique opportunity for each student to experience some of the financial challenges he or she will face when starting life on their own.

An Important Component to a Responsible Financial Lifestyle Is Saving
In the Financial Reality Fair experience, students are encouraged to save a minimum of 10% of their income, placing 3% in a long-term retirement investment, and 7% in a shorter-term investment. The Financial Counselors explore the importance of planning for future needs and preparing for future financial challenges through savings. The fair will tempt students to spend their income on “fun,” but the Financial Counselors will bring the focus back to saving and thrift practices.

Reality Fairs by the Numbers…

  • 75% of students demonstrate an increased understanding of credit scores after a fair
  • 85% of students complete a positive balanced monthly budget
  • ~3,500 students go through a fair each year
  • An average of 500 volunteers from credit unions and the community help make fairs a success

Since 2008, more than 25,000 Connecticut high school students have gone through a Reality Fair! Want to learn more? Contact David Hinchey at [email protected].