The HFS Federal Credit Union 2nd Annual Reality Fair on November 4th was a success! How do we measure success? We measure success by the feedback we received from each student that attended. From the moment they walked in the doors to the time they left, they were engaged in the event and having fun! All while learning the important financial life skills that will soon become a reality for many of them.

As students entered the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s Moanahoku Hall on November 4th, they were handed their new identity and sent off to experience a simulated “real world”. Students were given a career, salary, spouse (for most), a child and even debt to get started. Then they were tasked with purchasing needs and wants such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, food and other everyday expenses.

Within just an hour and a half’s time, students had made major life purchases and the stress of the real world costs had set in. The true costs of things they see and use every day were eye-opening for many. Some students even had to go back to booths to return their original choice and make new choices better suited for their budget. At the end of it all, the students enjoyed the interactive experience and had gained new knowledge to take away with them as they are preparing for their own “real world”. Here’s what some of the students had to say about the Reality Fair:

  • “It put into perspective how important it is to keep track of the money I spend and how easy it is to overspend.”
  • “I was able to put myself in my parents’ shoes.”
  • “I realized that money is not unlimited.”

As a Credit Union, we hope that the students walked away from the Reality Fair feeling more confident in their decision making skills when it comes to spending habits and money management. After attending this event, these Big Island keiki will be better prepared for their financial future.

This event would not have been possible without the help of the Credit Union’s staff members and community volunteers. Here’s what some of our volunteers had to say about their experience:

  • “I believe it was really an eye opening experience for all of them.”
  • “It is up to us to make sure the next generation has opportunities and education to make them better than what we were and had access to. I am so very grateful for this event for the youth!”
  • “One student said the activity really helped him because he’s actually in the process of looking for his own apartment, budgeting and figuring out transportation to work and school.”
  • “I’m proud of these kids.”

Mahalo to everyone who helped and to all who attended!

students huddle together to complete their profiles
Students work with an HFS staff member to figure out their monthly household income before starting to spend money on the basic needs (and wants) of the Reality Fair.
group discussions after the reality fair
Students gather together to discuss the Reality Fair and what they’ve learned with staff and volunteers.
students completing their evaluations
Students work in small groups before starting the exercise so that they learn how to balance a register, write a check and the difference between debits and credits.
staff up sell at the clothing table
A student looks at her options at the My Closet booth where she has to choose clothing and personal hygiene items for herself and her spouse in the exercise.
student purchases items at kid care table
One student ponders her options at the Kid Care booth.

2 replies to “Reality Fair a Reality Check for Big Island High School Students


I would love to organize something like this in our district. How could I get all the information and planning steps? Thank you



Aloha Stacy,

This is really a terrific opportunity for your students to learn about money management skills. We’d suggest that you first contact credit unions in your area and ask if they’re able to do a Reality Fair for you. You can also contact your local credit union association and they can help you find a credit union as well. Our Marketing Department will send you a quick email as well so that you have their contact information if you need more resources.

Have a terrific day and good luck!

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