Barron County Financial Coalition and Royal Credit Union Partner to Present Reality Fair


Jennifer McHugh, Director of Public Affairs & Financial Education
715-833-8167 or



Rice Lake, WI –The Barron County Financial Coalition and Royal Credit Union (Royal) have once again partnered to present a financial education program for high school students. Test Drive…Next Stop Reality, is a simulation of real life when it comes to money and finances.  The event was held on Thursday, March 30 from 8:30am-2:00pm at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Rice Lake. Over 200 students from 8 high schools in Barron, Washburn and Polk counties participated.

This event is a hands-on experience in which students select a career and research the education needed and salary that would come from that career.  The students are then required to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, and food.  Additional expenditures such as entertainment, pets, and unexpected expenses are also factored into the simulated activity.

“We piloted the program last year with the Barron County Financial Coalition and it was such a success we’ve decided to make this an annual event,” said Melissa Janssen, Royal Credit Union community financial education coordinator.  “Royal developed Test Drive…Next Stop Reality so that students understand what it takes to make it on their own and better prepare for their future. We are proud to be able to share these lessons on an on-going basis.”

At the fair, students visit various booths to make common purchases and pay typical bills. The booths are staffed by over 75 volunteers representing a variety of businesses in industries like real estate, insurance, utilities and child care. The volunteers help the students make decisions and offer guidance if a student is faced with a difficult situation.

“The Barron County Financial Coalition is working to provide financial education in our communities and improve the financial wellness in Barron County,” said Missy Bablick, Barron County Financial Coalition spokesperson. “We have presented a variety of events and our proud to offer Test Drive…Next Stop Reality with Royal to high school students in Barron County again this year.”

Students were given an assessment prior to preparing for the reality fair that measured their knowledge of basic financial terms and concepts. The same assessment will be given to the students following the event so educators can evaluate the impact of the program. Students will also be given a survey asking for their feedback on the program design. Participating high schools include Birchwood, Cameron, Chetek, Clayton, Northern Lakes Regional Academy, Prairie Farm, Rice Lake, and Turtle Lake.

About Barron County Financial Coalition
The Barron County Financial Coalition, based in Barron County, Wisconsin, was established in April of 2015. We are an all-volunteer group consisting of individuals, businesses, government agencies, financial institutions, non-profit agencies, and educators, with a shared passion for improving awareness and financial wellness in Barron County. If you would like to participate, please contact

About Royal Credit Union

Royal Credit Union is a federally insured credit union serving over 160,000 Members with 25 full service offices. Royal is driven by a core ideology which is built on strong purpose and values. You can open an account or apply for a low-rate loan at Royal Credit Union if you live or work in 18 counties in Western Wisconsin or 12 counties in Minnesota. Counties served in Wisconsin include Eau Claire, Chippewa, Barron, Buffalo, Burnett, Clark, Dunn, Jackson, Marathon, Pierce, Pepin, Polk, Rusk, St. Croix, Taylor, Trempealeau, Washburn, and Wood.  Counties served in Minnesota include Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Goodhue, Hennepin, Olmsted, Ramsey, Scott, Wabasha, Washington, and Winona. Realtors in the state of Wisconsin or Minnesota are also eligible to join the credit union. Visit or call Royal Credit Union at 1-800-341-9911 for more information.