First American Credit Union, Beloit, Wis., was one of 16 area businesses that participated in the second annual Reality Store, sponsored by the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corp.
The event was held at Beloit Memorial High School and attracted about 270 students. After students received their Reality Store packet– in which they saw how their income was reduced by taxes, health and life insurance, the possibility of child support and student loans–they visited the credit union’s booth to deposit what was left of their paycheck.
They were provided a checkbook and register that was used throughout the event to make mortgage payments, purchase a vehicle and insurance and make miscellaneous purchases like clothing, cable TV, groceries or vacations. And because life can throw curve balls, students had to pay two visits to the "fate booth" where they either paid or received money for certain situations. A police officer also randomly stopped students and either issued a citation, which resulted in another payment, or a good citizen card.
Shauna El‐Amin, business retention and expansion specialist for the economic development corporation said, "This event has opened the eyes of so many students. They were able to go through a real‐life example of what their careers would pay and what bills they would have to pay within a month’s time. It gave them the opportunity to evaluate changes that they need to make to be successful."
Christin Donaldson and Arlene Stout, service specialists at First American Credit Union, have manned the credit union’s booth at the event for the past two years. Both agreed that they would have liked to see this type of event in their high schools.
First American Credit Union is a part of First Community Federal Credit Union, which currently serves 78,500 members with assets of $624 million, and operates with 16 regional branch offices within Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin.