Financial reality fair tests students

KAPAA — For Bailey Bernabe, the “Get Real’ fair Thursday was an eye-opener.

“I was in marketing, my husband was making some good money, and I had two kids,” said the senior at Kapaa High School and a marketing intern with the Kauai Community Federal Credit Union. “That’s what I got after getting my ‘life story.’ But after going through everything — daycare costs so much, almost as much as buying a house — budgeting, buying a car, getting a house, everything, all I had left was $17. It was really hard.”

Bailey was among the Kapaa High School seniors who experienced the Get Real Financial Reality Fair that opened Thursday and continues today at the Bernice Hundley Gym.

The fair, developed by Karina Wentworth of the Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union in Alaska, was brought to Kapaa High School through the Kauai Community Federal Credit Union.

The financial fair offers young adults a hands-on, interactive way to learn about managing personal finances. Students get a feel for real-life budgeting with the goal of staying within budget or having money left over after paying their bills for the month.

“We are very fortunate to have this program,” said Monica Belz of the KCFCU. “During the fair, students learn in a couple of hours what other people learn in a couple of years. We all learn the hard way. We hope that by utilizing what they learn through the fair, they learn the right way.”

Asia Vito was a student struggling through the challenge of the fair.

“This is how I’m not going to be at 24 years old,” she said. “I’m not going to have kids. I don’t know. I’ll probably have rich in-laws.”

Reality Wheel and the Globes of Reality added a sense of realism.

“I just donated blood and got $15,” said Starlyn Mindoro, a senior who turned the Reality Wheel. “I wish I could do that in real life, but can’t.”

Jake Rhon Peralta was issued a life story of being in the military and trying to purchase his dream car.

“I’m getting to learn about budgeting,” he said.

Daniel Hamada, Kapaa High School principal, called the reality fair a “capstone of learning.”

“This demonstrates the relevance of four years of financial literacy learning,” he said. “This is the closest way to build relevance to financial literacy, and I’m planning on having it again, next year.”


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