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Mad City Money Management Training

West Carroll High School students in the Consumer Education class of Mrs. Candy Silvius attended a hands-on workshop sponsored by the Blackhawk Area Credit Union (BACU) on Wednesday afternoon, August 31. “Mad City Money” is a valuable hands-on workshop for students interested in preparing him/herself for the rigors of financial organization in adulthood.

The event format is from the Credit Union National Association, which has been spreading the seminar to different credit unions across the nation. BACU in Savanna has sponsored the event 2 years in a row.

(bottom to top) Susan Branch (Select Employees
Credit Union in Sterling), Sandra Howard (Blackhawk Area Credit Union in Savanna), and Glenda Shaw (retired West Carroll High School English teacher)
help participants buy a home from "Really Realty."

“People will be given a certain job and a certain salary,” said Melanie Macy, the program coordinator for Mad City Money from BACU. “We want participants of this ‘Reality Fair’ to learn more about money management and increase their money skills.”

Students attending the Reality Fair will be randomly assigned a job and some debt — some of the occupations very lucrative, some of the debt quite foreboding.
The simulation will play out for almost 2 hours, during which time students will have to make decisions on purchasing cars, homes and clothing, while providing for their imaginary families.

“They take what they have and go around to various ‘stores,’ trying to stay under budget with what they make,” said Macy. “It gives the young adults a good idea of what life will be like five or 10 years in the future. Anybody who hasn’t experienced it doesn’t really have any idea.”

The basis of the workshop is encouraging students to make informed decisions under pressure. The atmosphere was high energy as participants made their way through simulated lives, making decisions they’ve never had to before.

(L to R) Abigail Roach, Hannah Cap and Deisy Rodriguez balance their checkbooks after a shopping spree at "Mad City Mall." Volunteers from Savanna and several area businesses put a little sales pressure on the students as they shopped around, finding a car at "Big Wheels," or clothing for their kids at "Kid Care," just to name a few. (Article & photos/Tom Kocal)

One of the volunteers from the business community is appointed the role as “Fate” within the simulation, dolling out both good and bad news to the participants who must try and react accordingly, just like real life. They might be a lottery winner or maybe their house burned down.

At the event’s conclusion, the participants are given an opportunity to reflect on the financial choices they made and consult with Macy and her staff on appropriate methods of budgeting and money management. The information will also be studied during their Consumer Education class.

“I am so grateful to all the volunteers that contribute their time for this program,” Macy said. “We couldn’t do this without the assistance of so many wonderful people.”

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