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.

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