Desco host reality fairs


Students from Bloom-Vernon at a Reality Fair.

Thinking of fairs, people most often think of things like the Scioto County Fair, but Desco Federal Credit Union hosts a very interesting and thought-provoking fair in many of the local schools.

Desco said their commitment is to give back to the communities extending to people of all ages, including creating partnerships with local schools. Again this year, Desco co-sponsored Reality Fairs, where students were taught personal finance, savings and credit. This year alone 660 students experienced a Reality Fair in their local schools.

A Reality Fair is an interactive financial literacy event where students simulate spending decisions they will face as adults using the salary of a profession of their choice that they have researched in advance. With the goal of staying within a monthly budget, students work with credit union employees, volunteers and parents who help students make spending decisions in various expense categories, such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, and food. Additional expenses such as entertainment, care for pets and travel are factored in as well.

Throughout the fair, there are many temptations for additional spending, and students must learn to balance their wants and needs to live on their own.

“We’ve been doing it for about ten years, and we try to add new schools every year,” said Kara Tieman Chief Financial Officer at Desco. “We like to do it with the older students like grades 9-12, but at Minford, we do sixth grade for example.”

Desco hosted the following schools this school year: Wheelersburg, Notre Dame, Portsmouth West, Green, SCCTC, Minford, Bloom-Vernon, Valley, Portsmouth, and Clay, which Tieman said served 660 students in total.

“The students research their career, and they have this amount of their monthly budget to spend. They have to buy a house or rent an apartment, buy a car, pay insurance, utilities, food clothing,” Tieman said. “Then we have some fun things too, like pets and travel, different things like that and they have to talk about what their student loans will be, their savings and charitable contributions as well.” She said they also pull a credit score and they can see how that affects their car payment and house payment.

“We use our employees, but we also have business partners and we also use parents at some of the different schools, to help fill in some of the gaps,” Tieman said. “They like to see what the kids are doing, so that kind of works out for us too.

“It’s one of my favorite things I get to do. It’s very beneficial because the kids are learning the hands-on, they are having fun, yet they’re learning as they go along. They’re learning what their parents have to go through every month,” Tieman said. “Like how much the house payment is, and insurance, and how they have to budget things. I think it makes them appreciate their parents and grandparents. It’s always a very positive, well-received project from the school, parents and business partners.”

Tieman concluded, “Usually, we host the fairs between March and May and any other schools that are interested, can contact me, we would love to add them.”(karat@descofcu.org)

Students often report that the event was an eye-opening financial reality check and Desco employees are always happy to help. To enjoy a short video showing a Reality Fair go to www.descofcu.org/financial-tools/personal-financial-management and click on the CU 4 Reality link.

Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928© 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved