LA PINE, OR -- A local financial institution is taking a high-tech approach to helping teens understand how to manage their money. Mid Oregon Credit Union hosts a Financial Reality Fair at La Pine High School on Friday.
"Through our partnership with Bend-La Pine Schools, we were able to put our Financial Reality app on the student’s iPads," says Mid Oregon Credit Union CFO Kevin Cole, "They’ll be able to go and are randomly selected with a job that gives them a certain amount of pay. They have to make choices about how they choose to spend that money." He tells KBND News, "They choose a particular type of housing and they choose what type of transportation to use, and whether they want to have a pet, what their eating preferences are; and the app will sort of give them a quick rundown of what their finances are going to look like if they make those choices." Scenarios are made to be as realistic as possible, "The job is also tied to the amount of student loan debt that they’ll come out with."
Many districts have dropped “personal finance” from class offerings and Cole says “Financial Reality” helps fill that gap through a school’s business curriculum, while keeping kids interested and engaged, "It combines gamification theory with the education component, and makes it a little bit more fun for the kids. And it’s very relatable; it’s choices that – short of the avocado toast – it’s very similar to the life choices that the young people will actually make today. So, I think it’s very relatable and we’ve had really good success with it."
Cole hopes to eventually expand the Financial Reality program to other schools in the district, but says it’s starting at La Pine High because that school is home to the Credit Union’s first student-run branch. The program is offered through the Northwest Credit Union Foundation.