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Teenagers learn the importance of saving by spending
MADISON, Wis. (6/26/08)--Teenagers learned they needed to spend less than they earned at a Mad City Money simulation sponsored by Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) center for personal finance. The event was one of the elective classes for youth at the Wisconsin 4H Leadership Conference. Students from an investing class at Madison, Wis.’s Edgewood High School joined the group.
Edgewood High School student Dylan Williams pays for a TV and computer at the “mall” during a Mad City Money simulation offered by Credit Union National Association’s center for personal finance.
Students Maame Brewoo, left, and April Morris learn about the importance of entering check and debit card transactions to balance their checking accounts. (Photos provided by CUNA).
More than 50 teenagers received an identity that included an occupation, a family, and a set monthly income. Debt--both credit card and school loan--were included in their mythical future. With calculators in hand, the students visited eight Mad City merchants to purchase housing, transportation, household goods, child care, clothing, entertainment and more. A credit union provided financial counseling. Chance played a role in the form of the Fickle Finger of Fate, which delivered unexpected expenses such as a flat tire or broken eye glasses and windfalls such as winning a local karaoke contest or hosting a successful garage sale. “The power of a simulation is much greater than a school lecture or advice from Mom and Dad,” said Lin Standke, manager of youth programs for CUNA. “We take money seriously, but that doesn’t mean that learning about it can’t be fun. This was an opportunity for the teenagers to experience for themselves the effects of making bad money decisions. “You can see those mental light bulbs click on when students discover that the buying an expensive house and a luxury truck means they can’t afford food or diapers for their kids. This is a realistic, non-boring way for them to learn how to make choices about money.” One student summed up the activity: “Now I will spend my money wisely and think carefully about what I need and then go with some wants. And when I need help, I will come to the credit union.” Another student put it in succinct teen speak: “I’m gonna save my butt off!”
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