Roughly 380 students from Stamford's public high schools and the surrounding area got a taste of real-life money-managing Wednesday at the CT Financial Reality Fair hosted by the University of Connecticut-Stamford.
Credit unions and financial institutions from Stamford and the surrounding area sent more than 70 volunteers to assist students from Stamford High, Westhill High and AITE with a day full of games and exercises geared towards making students familiar with organizing their funds.
We're trying to give students an idea of what it's liker to go out on their own," said Stamford Health Care Credit Union CEO Rose Coscarelli-Curtis. "They get a feeling for what it's like to start out."
Students choose a desired career, are given a starting base salary, and have to plan their finances for things like getting an apartment, leasing or buying a car and getting insurance, budget for food and clothing and maybe get a pet. Students seem to favor the wheel of chance, which they spin to experience a life event like coming upon a gift of money or a sudden emergency cost like a hospital visit or computer crash.
"I love learning real-life, applicable skills that I will be able to apply throughout and after college," said Bradley Darling, 16, of Westhill. "I think everybody should know how to manage their money."
The program is held throughout Connecticut all year, Coscarelli-Curtis said. She said they've had approximately 10,000 students come through the program. About 380 students visited UConn-Stamford Wednesday to try their hand at future planning.
"I think financial literacy is the most important skill a student can learn," said Kim Kumar, Business and Unified Arts Department Chair at West Hill High School. "To be able to give them the opportunity to learn those skills, I love it."
Stamford Director of Administration Mike Handler pointed out that, while the city had nothing to do with arranging the event, he thought it was a wonderfully positive thing for the kids to be able to experience.
"I can't think of what could be more important to teach students than financial responsibility," Handler said. "It's a great idea, something really positive, and helps them understand what their parents are going through and understand how they can go about having successful futures."