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Manton Students Learn How to Navigate the Financial World

MANTON — Students in Manton are learning fiscal responsibility to better prepare themselves for real-world scenarios like paying bills and balancing a budget.

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Forest Area Credit Union is sponsoring Banzai, a web-based financial program, for free use by Manton High School students. The interactive program is supplemented with workbooks that follow state curriculum requirements for personal finance education. Total, the program services more than 25,000 teachers across the nation.

The bank has offered resources such as time, money and experience to help students understand the importance of personal finance. Students will be exposed to likely life scenarios and are expected to problem-solve and find a financially stable way to address them. Managing unexpected expenses, overdraft and interest charges, auto loans and bank statements are some of the practical exercises students will navigate.

Dawn Eller, teacher of Financial Principles at Manton, said the Banzai program is a very practical way to give kids hands-on experience with real-life situations.

“The students really have to learn the difference between want and need in order to successfully complete this program, Eller said. “Just like in life, the program throws scenarios at you, and you have to deal with them to the best of your ability.”

The ultimate goal of Banzai is to have students save $2,000 for college. However, when forced with buying car insurance or going out with friends, some students didn’t make the most responsible choice.

Jarred Helsel, a senior, completed the program four times, failing only once.

“I decided to forgo home insurance the first time I played so that I could reach my goal faster,” Helsel said. “My apartment flooded and I wasn’t able to afford the repairs I needed and save the money for college. I failed.”

The scenarios are never presented the same way and in the same order when you repeat the program, Helsel said.

“It really threw a lot of real-life stuff at me and no two run-throughs of the program were the same,” Helsel said.

Other scenarios include what kind of phone to buy, what car to buy, etc. If a student chose an expensive phone, they would receive more friends and invites to go out and do things — ultimately spending more money.

Morgan Vandagriff, co-founder of Banzai, said students will be able to maintain their own accounts and will understand the responsibility of financial planning by using hands-on learning.

“Too often students get out of school and they just aren’t ready for the financial roller coasters life can give us,” Vandagriff said. “Banzai teaches students to navigate those twists and turns and come out on top. We’re excited to work with Forest Area Federal Credit Union to improve financial literacy in local schools.”

Forest Area Federal Credit Union is excited to provide financial well-being among their members and to educate students about financial responsibility, said Nicole Gibson, teller and community education liaison.

Banzai interactive courses are fun and FREE. Go ahead.