ACMG FCU Brings 'Mad City Money' to NY High School
ACMG Federal Credit Union in Solvay, N.Y., recently gave 43 seniors at Solvay High School a taste of the real world through Mad City Money, a two-hour financial education simulation created by CUNA. More than 250 credit unions have hosted the event since its genesis in 2007.
At Solvay, each student received an identity and scenario, such as a newspaper editor with $400 in credit card debt, a $2,300 monthly salary and a two-year-old child. Students then visited merchants role-played by volunteers from the community and wrote checks to purchase housing, transportation, food and other needs. Their challenge was to survive for one month in their new roles by balancing both their budgets and their checkbooks, ending the simulation with no more than $100 in their checking accounts.
And just like in real life, the merchants in Mad City try to pressure participants into making purchases they don't really need. For example, said Wheelock of ACMG FCU, one of the local businessmen running the auto store table "took his role to the next level" and tried to up sell the students on extended repair warranties when they purchased a new car. Wheelock said he randomly quoted them an additional amount and had them add it to their monthly car payment when they wrote out their checks.
"It was about 45 minutes into the event before one girl looked him in the eye and told him she didn't need one because it said right in the fine print that a warranty was included," she said. "We made sure to recognize her at the debrief, but continued to let him try and trick the kids since that is a great example of the typical pressure they would experience out on their own."