The Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation and Eglin Federal Credit Union have teamed up to bring a financial education experience called Reality Check to Okaloosa County for the first time. Approximately 60 high school students from the 9th to 12th grades participated in lessons facilitated by EFCU Financial Education Specialist Courtney Dollson at Laurel Hill School April 12 and 19 with the final Reality Check simulation at the Crestview Community Center April 26. The Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation provided breakfast and lunch through a grant for the students the day of the simulation.
“In the classroom, Laurel Hill students learned about budgeting, expenses after graduation, and credit in preparation for the Reality Check simulation,” said EFCU Financial Education Specialist Courtney Dollson. “Eglin Federal Credit Union is committed to the communities we serve by providing free financial education. We hope to continue this event annually and see even more growth in the coming years.”
At the Reality Check simulation students randomly received various occupations, salaries and credit scores. They toured booths staffed by community partners and volunteers to make purchases from insurance agencies, mortgage lending, auto lending, finance, retail, communications and more. Several products and services were offered such as a home, car or insurance translating into various monthly payments with credit scores considered. Students budgeted their expenses and calculated their remaining income at the end of the activity.
At the event a student, Amy Senterfitt, said, “What I learned today is that parents really do have it rough around here. It really opened up my eyes because I didn't realize how much stuff actually costs even though it might be low in price, it adds up at the end. Today I really learned how to budget my money and how the real world is actually going to be. Courtney visited our school and got us ready for this event a couple of weeks ago. She really helped us prepare for what the future is going to be like, but I didn't realize how hard it was actually going to be.”
“Financial literacy and fiscal responsibility are life skills,” said Executive Director Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation Steve Horton. “The Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation is grateful to be able to partner with Eglin Federal Credit Union and our other volunteers to host this event for our students. We are committed to enhancing students’ education, and this Reality Check event provides a perfect forum to do just that.”
Volunteers at the event included representatives from Auburn Water Systems, Career Source Okaloosa Walton, CCB Community Bank, CHELCO, Clayton Homes, David A. Herf, MD, Eglin Federal Credit Union, Emerald Coast Science Center, Farm Bureau Insurance, Florida Farm Bureau, JRL Conyers Lodge, Moors & Cabot, Okaloosa County School District, Okaloosa Gas, Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation, Okaloosa Tax Collectors Office, Realty ONE Group, Sandy Sansing Milton Chevrolet, ServisFirst Bank, Tiffany Woodham State Farm, and Wanda g. Roberts Realty LLC. A grant by Wells Fargo funded the event.