CU 4 Reality: 7th graders practice real-life budgeting

Christian Just, Mateo Sandoval, Maxwell Mailey, Steven Garcia, Aiden Jordan and fellow Patch Middle School seventh grade school students visit booths at the annual CU 4 Reality Fair, May 11, 2017. Photo by Holly DeCarlo-White

Story and Photos by Holly DeCarlo-White
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Patch Middle School seventh graders fast-forwarded to what their future lives could be like after college graduation and considered what their financial situations could be during the annual CU 4 Reality Education Program, May 11.

The program, hosted by Service Credit Union, was held at the Swabian Special Events Center on Patch Barracks. Through the program, students practice financial management skills and learn early on the consequences of debt. The interactive fair is the second phase of learning to put financial lessons that were taught in the classroom into practice.

“We teach them how to budget, how to choose a career … today, they have chosen a career based on their grades and attendance this year in school,” said Kathy Wood, Service Credit Union’s Overseas Education Department, Kaiserslautern. “They set up their budget and visit every booth: housing, utilities, transportation, pick out a car, choose temptations and entertainment, choose a pet if they want one, and more.”

Andrew Massie dresses as his future career, a doctor, during the CU 4 Reality Fair, May 11, 2017 on Patch Barracks. Photo by Holly DeCarlo-White

Wood visits Stuttgart throughout the school year to support the program by teaching students about financial responsibility, and volunteers from the community like Sharon Black, Bavarian Motor Cars, lead the various stations to work with students on balancing their income with their everyday necessities and costs.

“This event teaches kids about financing in real life. Based on what their career is, we know what kind of house they can afford, if their job will be in the city or in the country, and some have come back realizing that they can’t afford the house that they first picked,” Black said, who volunteered at the housing booth.

Many students at the fair took the role-play to the next level, dressing in costume to match their future career-selves.

“I think the seventh graders enjoy role playing more than anyone,” Wood said “They really get into character, dressed as doctors and everything!”

Christian Just, Nicolas Ripper, and Hannah Bretthorst participate in the CU 4 Reality Fair, May 11, 2017 on Patch Barracks.
Samuel Curry, Brian Walker and Jeffrey Slate with other students from Patch Middle School participate in the CU 4 Reality Fair, May 11, 2017.
Seventh graders Conor Holmes, Kailee Easterling, Margaret Lindstrom, Jacob Shumate and Benjamin Lindstrom visit the clothing table at the CU 4 Reality Fair, May 11, 2017.