Allendale Students Experience “Mad City Money” Budgeting Simulation

Contact:  Sue Malo

North Chicago, IL – High school students from Allendale Association in Lake Villa learned just how difficult it is to make household budgetary decisions when they participated in the recent Mad City Money program organized by Great Lakes Credit Union (GLCU).

Susan Swanson, a teacher at Allendale, witnessed the program conducted for Warren Township High School students and wanted to bring it to her students.  She invited the Allendale students to participate in the simulation in which they were given an occupation and salary, spouse and family, student loan debt, credit card debt, and cost of medical insurance to build a monthly budget as they visited numerous merchants and made decisions based on affordability.

“Unfortunately, personal financial literacy is not taught in the classroom.  When young adults are given the right tools and learn about educational resources available to them, they can start and maintain a positive relationship with money and credit that will serve them well in the future,” said Sue Malo, GLCU’s Marketing Manager, and the facilitator of the program. Students not only made decisions on whether to buy a car or take the bus, selecting affordable day care and whether or not they could afford furniture for their house, but they also experienced one financial windfall and one financial setback.

The simulation was executed with minimal instructions and gave students a real sense of the costs of living as well as the spending decisions adults make on a regular basis. The Credit Union was available to assist students with making changes to their budget once they realized they were in financial trouble, and a debriefing occurred at the end of the exercise where money lessons were exchanged and students had a chance to discuss their experiences.

Allendale Association is a not-for-profit, multi-service child welfare agency that was established in 1897.

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