Churchbridge, Langenburg students get financial 'reality check' thanks to local credit union

Churchbridge Credit Union hosted a "Reality Check" event to help students learn about finances. (Brady Lang/CTV News)

Literacy is taught in many forms throughout the education system, but financial literacy at times ends up falling through the cracks.

To close that gap, Churchbridge Credit Union hosted a “Reality Check” Wednesday, which gives students real-life experience in a controlled setting. Students from both Churchbridge and Langenburg participated.

Every student was given a job, a monthly salary, and a family situation — whether they were assigned to be single, married, or how many children they had in the simulated life. From there, they had to fill out and work through their budgeting across 18 booths.

Those booths were hosted by local business owners and staff, correlating what they do in the real world. Charity, transportation, housing, childcare costs, all financial dealings needed to be balanced by the time the students were finished.

“It gives the students an opportunity to get a deeper understanding of how their families live on a day to day basis. So we're hoping it gives them a bit of perspective of what to expect in the future,” said Gaylene Putland, support services assistant at Churchbridge Credit Union, who ran the event at Churchbridge Public School.

“And at the end of the day, do they have any money left? If they find that, ‘uh oh, I'm running out of money, I need a little bit of help,’ we have an SOS booth that is manned by our Churchbridge Union lending staff.”

The students said they learned a lot during the afternoon event. Emma Rivet was assigned as a continuing care aide, with no children. She navigated through the “Reality Check,” by doing her best to always pick the cheapest option. She said she was able to live off of her salary of just over $38,000.

“It is a good way to get into it and get familiar with what we're going to have to do after high school,” she said.

Kendra Laboucane said she enjoyed her experience, ending up with money left over. But that was after she was denied ofrbuying her own home. She was an LPN, making just over $35,000. Like Rivet, Laboucane also had no children assigned. Students were given up to four children to budget for during the exercise. Laboucane shared what she learned in the afternoon.

“Probably how much you do have to budget, and how you have to prepare yourself for things you don’t even know would happen yet,” she said.