League Shares Financial Literacy Expertise, Resources With Educators

May 9, 2014

On Thursday, May 8, the Maine Credit Union League not only was a major sponsor of the 5th Annual Fostering Financial Education Summit at the Cross Center in Bangor, but also was one of the invited presenters.

Jon Paradise, VP of Governmental & Public Affairs for the Maine Credit Union League, gave many of the nearly 150 attendees an overview of the format and premise of the successful Financial Fitness - Money Management Experience fairs coordinated by the League and Maine's credit unions throughout the state.  The Fairs, now in their tenth year, have grown from a lone fair in 2004 to nearly 30 fairs held during the 2013/14 school year.  "This is about starting a conversation with students about personal finance.  The Fairs provide an opportunity for kids to receive valuable information and have an interactive experience on what takes to successfully manage money and finances.  The feedback has been wonderful from participants and educators and, frankly, if kids don't have a basic understanding of money management when they enter the real-world and make these financial decisions for real, they are much less likely to be fiscally responsible and that harms everyone," Paradise explained.

The award-winning fairs are often compared to interactive game of life and provides participants (usually high school juniors and seniors) with a career and other life choices at the age of 22.  The goal is to have students end up visiting various booths (transportation, housing, credit, etc.) and make decisions based on their finances and put those decisions on their spending plans.  At the end of the exercise, students are encouraged to either have a spending plan that breaks even or has extra money left over.

"Learning about managing money is one of the most valuable lessons a student can learn before they graduate from high school.  Our fairs give them the opportunity to make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes without the real-world consequences.  If they learn one valuable lesson by attending a fair and make a different and better choice when they have to make a financial decision for real, then we've made a difference.  Based on all of the feedback we have received over the years, we are," added Paradise.

For more information about hosting a fair or attending a fair, please email jparadise@mainecul.org.