Centris Federal Credit Union:
Mad City Money

In February, Avenue Scholars high school students had the opportunity to attend Centris Federal Credit Union’s “Mad City Money” program. Centris’ Dawn Gonzales led students through the program, and also participated in our interview below:

Why did Centris start the Mad City Money program?

Mad City Money was made available to credit unions through the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) for more than twenty years. It is a program that has been used by credit unions, schools and non-profits serving youth. Centris has been using Mad City Money for over twenty years to help educate high school students about the importance of budgeting and how needs and wants impact everyday decisions.

Why is financial literacy so important for high-school aged students?

Financial literacy is important for everyone. For high schoolers, being financially literate is as important as being able to read. It is an important life skill to have and the earlier they know about how to manage their money, then they may be better equipped to avoid mistakes that can set them up for future financial disasters.

What process do students go through when participating in Mad City Money?

Students are provided a packet of documents that includes an About Me page that tells them what they do for a career and their salary, the career and salary of their make-believe spouse, any college or credit card debt and the age of their child. There are nearly 30 different profiles so it is rare that two students would have the same details. All students have a child in Mad City which allows for lessons in budgeting for day care, clothing and food for a child.  They also receive a seven page budget packet that focuses on all of the stations they must visit in Mad City where they learn how to save and spend for items like a mortgage, car, home furnishings and the unexpected events that life brings. Each student must also visit the Centris Federal Credit Union station where they will pay any of their debts and create a savings plan. The conversations students have with our volunteer merchants in Mad City are designed to get them thinking about needs and wants and how spending decisions can make or break a budget. The goal of the game is to have no more than $100 left in their checking account at the end of the experience. For some students that means that they can save more for their retirement or take a dream vacation and for others, it means that they overspent and must rethink their decisions.

What benefits does the Mad City Money program provide to students?

The benefit that students receive from participating in a Mad City Money experience is that life has many choices and those choices can determine our successes or failures. Mad City Money enhances skills already being taught in the classroom like consumer math, budgeting and understanding needs and wants.

What has been the student response so far to Mad City Money?

The majority of students really enjoy the Mad City Money experience. Our exit surveys tell us that students are learning about budgets, that managing money can be difficult and that students often have a greater respect for their parents or guardians and the daily decisions they make after they have completed their Mad City Money tour.

Where to hear more from Centris Federal Credit Union

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