Friday, March 27, 2015

" Bite of Reality" for Clairemont High Students

Imagine you’re 17 or 18 years old and one day you wake up to find you have a career, kids, a spouse and bills.  How are you going to handle it all? That is the question more than 40 Clairemont High School Academy of Business students faced when they recently took part in “Bite of Reality”, an interactive financial education simulation designed to teach high school teens how to manage money.

“We think this is an extremely important program for us to take into the high schools,” said California Coast Credit Union President and CEO Todd Lane. “According to a recent study by T. Rowe Price, 74 percent of parents are reluctant to discuss financial topics with their kids and that includes how to budget.”

Hosted by California Coast Credit Union and Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation, “Bite of Reality” introduces students to the basics of finances by having them navigate a simulated grown-up world. Students are given fictional “personas” which include an occupation, salary, family and in some cases, loan debt, credit card debt and medical insurance payments.

To fully develop their “personas”, students visit several merchant tables to obtain housing, transportation, food, clothing, childcare and other necessities. During the buying process they encounter pushy salespeople, unexpected expenses and their own desires for high-end products. If students find themselves running in the red, representatives at the “credit union” desk provide assistance to get them back on the road to financial solvency.

“Bite of Reality was an engaging wake-up call for our students.  Through a fun interaction, they had a chance to experience, in a safe setting, the financial pitfalls that life will throw at them,” said Liz Rush, Clairemont High’s Academy of Business program coordinator. “After the experience, students internalized the need to educate themselves in financial literacy and budgets.”

First extremely confident they could handle “real life”, by the end of the exercise students expressed dismay at not being able to have everything they wanted.

“The whole budget balancing was definitely a shocker,” said Clairemont High School senior Judy Shahan.  “Learning the difference between needs and wants was a challenge.”

“I loved how it gave us insight into the adult world and made us think about things we need in the future like cars and houses,” said Clairemont High School senior Alex Wang. “It showed me how important it is not to spend more than you make.”

For more information on Bite of Reality, contact Perette Godwin by email at or at 858-636-4229.

About California Coast Credit Union
Established by a handful of San Diego teachers in 1929, California Coast is the oldest financial institution based in San Diego. With $1.8 billion in assets, the credit union now proudly serves 125,000 members through its local network of over 20 branches and 60 shared branch locations, online and mobile banking, and 30,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide. California Coast is not-for-profit and committed to improving the lives of its members and others in the community. Anyone who lives or works in San Diego or Riverside counties can be a member. For more information, please visit or call (877) 495-1600.

About the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation
Founded in 1958, the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation is dedicated to supporting credit union efforts in spreading the financial literacy message to young people.  The Foundation offers the Bite of Reality program, a hands-on simulation program that teaches the basics of finances to teenagers.  It is funded through donations from credit unions, League chapters, corporations providing credit union services and individuals.  More information about the Foundation is available at its website at

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