More than 140 high school seniors at
During Mad City Money, students are assigned a life scenario, complete with career, debt and insurance payments – even a spouse and children. They also received unexpected windfalls and had to visit stations to pay for housing costs, just as in real life.
"My partner and I had to exchange our big house for a smaller house because we ran out of money for things like food and transportation," said Sierra Vista senior
Other stations were set up to simulate additional expenses, including – food, cars, electronics, clothes and childcare costs. A credit union station was there to help teens make better financial decisions and show them the importance of budgeting effectively. "I learned that money is spent faster than earning it, especially for basic needs," said Lopez. "I'll be sure to be smarter about what I spend and will make sure I buy what I need before something I want."
"Fate Cards" with different monetary expenses were distributed at random to teach students to prepare for what they don't see coming. "You can't teach kids that these unknown expenses are going to happen, but this is a good way to teach them how to handle it when it does," said Sierra Vista economics teacher
Additionally, students were taught to be on the lookout for fraud by making sure they keep track of their simulated belongings. Players who dropped items, like their debit cards, fell victim to fraud and were penalized. "I didn't expect to have my debit card taken away. I learned to be careful with my card," said Sierra Vista senior
Studies have shown that students who've taken economics and personal finance courses are more likely to save money and pay off credit card bills in full each month. These teenagers are less likely to be compulsive buyers, max out credit cards and make late payments. Financial education courses are not currently a prerequisite for high school graduation in
"We recognize the importance of educating students about personal finance as much as possible before they enter the workforce or go off to college," said
Sierra Vista senior
SCE FCU serves the
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