Reality of Money
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NEW AND IMPROVED! The Reality of Money, a free financial educational education simulation for high school students, has been updated and is now available for your credit union to use! The update includes new stations and student profiles, plus other modifications to the materials. Created in 2013 by a volunteer group of Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) in North Carolina and South Carolina, the materials were updated in early 2016.


Students learn, as they participate, about the impact their choices make in their budget and lifestyle, as they are "transformed" into wage earning, bill paying and financially independent young adults. The end result is that students get a powerful lesson about the real-life choices they will soon be making. 



Students mull their choices during a Reality of Money event held in Greensboro, NC in 2013.

The Reality of Money is available for credit unions in the Carolinas to use free-of-charge (credit unions may choose to make a voluntary gift to the Carolinas CUDE Scholarship Fund at the Carolinas CU Foundation).

"Experiential learning has been shown to be a powerful tool in helping people better manage their finances," said CCUL Director of Cooperative Initiatives Jeff Hardin. "The Reality of Money will assist students in the Carolinas as they prepare to make key decisions that will impact their financial lives in the decades to come."

Here are some potential learning outcomes from the Reality of Money:

  • Students learn the value of "living below your means.”
  • The value of maintaining a good credit score.
  • Education can be a key driver of financial success.
  • Learning how to budget helps build financial success.
  • Life choices matter.

The Reality of Money consists of a handbook that guides volunteer coordinators through the process of developing an event, plus all the worksheets and materials needed to hold the event. In addition, the League will provide assistance to interested credit unions in order to assist them in successfully implementing the program.

Here are some examples of feedback students have provided after completing the Reality of Money:

  • "I learned that I definitely want to go to college. I also know that it’s okay to get cheaper things, just so you don’t go into debt.”
  • I learned bigger isn’t always better.”
  • It’s hard to pay for simple things, like groceries, if you spend too much on unnecessary things, like entertainment!”

If you would like more information on the Reality of Money, please contact Jeff Hardin, the Reality of Money coordinator for the League, at 919-457-9063. To view and download the materials, please log in to your CCUL web site account and scroll to the bottom of this page. 

You may also join the Reality of Money group, where you can exchange information with other credit union staff. (Group access is open to registered users of the Carolinas Credit Union League web site. Please click here to register your user account today!)

Reality of Money Documents

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This collection hosts the files needed to successfully produce a Reality of Money event, including the volunteer handbook, sample life profiles, and table signs. (Note: you must be a registered user of the Carolinas Credit Union League web site in order to access these files. Please log-in to view and download these materials.)
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