This past Tuesday all of my new SSP friends and I gathered at Suncoast Credit Union to learn about what it means to be financially literate as well as what a credit union is and what its benefits are. I was not exactly sure what I was stepping into when I first walked inside. I didn’t know anything about budgeting money, savings accounts, or interest, and to be honest I wasn’t even sure what the difference between a credit union and a bank was.

The employees at Suncoast Credit Union first explained to all of us how credit unions are member-owned, which means the members are put first. They then talked about how they are different than banks because banks are for-profit enterprises while credit unions are nonprofits. This leads to credit unions having lower interest rates on loans and credit cards as well as having less fees than banks.

We then got the opportunity to see how we would budget our money in a real life scenario. Each of us were assigned a unique monthly income. In the activity some people were married and some also had kids. I had a monthly income of $2,369, and had no spouse or kids. With the money I had I was required to find a house, pay my water, internet and cellphone bill, furnish my house, get a wardrobe, decide if I wanted to join a bank or credit union, pay for groceries, get transportation, and buy insurance. I had to make some tough choices because money was tight (at one point I only had 30 dollars left). I decided not to buy a car and just buy a bus pass, that way I would not have to pay for car insurance. I also decided to buy discounted groceries and some used furniture in order to save money. I did buy a 5-bedroom house and found 3 roommates to live with me. After I collected rent I ended up with a whopping $1,396 left of my monthly budget.

Suncoast Credit Union taught me a very important lesson about how to properly manage my money. I learned not to save after spending but to spend after saving. After learning about the value of saving and budgeting I plan to start saving a larger percent of my money while still being able to treat myself every once and a while, and that is a very important lesson learned.

– Delaney Brooks