2018 Financial Reality Fair, in collaboration with Connecticut Credit Union
To improve the financial literacy of Waterbury youth, the Resources coming in and out of
Connecticut’s Credit Union (CCU) and Bridge to Success (BTS) individual financial buckets
organized a Financial Reality Fair. On April 12, 2018 more than
450 high school students assembled in Crosby High School’s
Gymnasium to play a real-size version of “The Game of Life”.
Students chose or were assigned an occupation with a specific
salary and had to budget their monthly expenses. As figure 1
shows, certain costs (e.g. food, housing) were mandatory (the
red arrow) while others (e.g. leisure, pets) were optional (the
orange arrow). Students were challenged to adjust expenses to
their income, making sure their bucket would not empty.
Financial literacy is essential, but, the financial literacy of American youth lags other OECD countries. The
average score of American youth on the financial literacy scale of the Program for International Student
Assessment (PISA) was lower than the OECD average and only 10% of American youth performed at the
highest performance level, opposed to 33% of Chinese youth and 24% of Belgium youth. 1
The number of students who To gauge the increase of Waterbury’s Youth’s financial
felt very comfortable explain knowledge, CCU administered surveys before and after
budgeting to a friend of participation in the fair. Before their participation, only 13%
family member tripled of students felt very comfortable explaining budgeting to
friends and family, after the event 40% did.2
Of all students surveyed, 76% plan to go to college, 16% does not, and 7% says that their career does not
require college. The FRF was set up in an interactive fun fashion, both students and volunteers appeared to
enjoy the event. While the factual knowledge of the students (e.g. where to get loans, how much dept to take
to pay for college, and what a credit union is) did not change so much. What did change was the likelihood
that students will save. Before the event 67% of students said they saved money regularly. After the event
90% said they were (much) more likely to save money due to the event.
Students become more likely to save money 67%
Does regularly save money before event
(Very) likely to save after the event
1 Gonzales, Patrick and Anindita Sen (May, 2017). Financial Literacy of 15-Year-Olds: Results from PISA 2015. U.S.
Department of Education. Data Point NCES 2017-086.
2 Data are not paired, which implies that no significant difference can be determined between pre- and post surveys.