Bite of Reality at John Muir High School Early College Magnet

Students at John Muir High School Early College Magnet just got a dose or reality…financial reality. On Wednesday, the school hosted Bite of Reality, a financial literacy simulation produced by Pasadena Service Federal Credit Union.

John Muir High School just finished “business week,” a week of resume reviews, mock interviews, and other employment readiness sessions designed to prepare students for life after high school. Bite of Reality is one of those events.

Students were assigned a fictional occupation and a monthly budget, and then over the course of an hour visited 8 different stations that simulated the purchasing of life’s greatest necessities.

Stations included housing, transportation, entertainment, childcare, food, shopping, household needs, and clothing.

For example, at the housing station, students were given the option of buying a large house, a small house, large or small apartment buildings and more—all with their own set of monthly maintenance costs and mortgage payments.

The salespersons at the various stations would try to up-sell them (as I’m sure we’re all familiar with). After making a selection, the students entered their purchases into the Bite of Reality mobile app, which kept track of the amount of money left in their account and other financial statistics.

Bite of Reality is a continuation of the longstanding relationship that PSFCU has with the Pasadena Unified School District. The credit union has a student-run branch at John Muir High School. Known as the Mustang Branch, the partnership allows students hands-on experience in running a branch from professionals at PSFCU.

Louis Bond teaches business to juniors and seniors at John Muir and is in charge of the school’s business academy. He stressed the value of the change in learning environment that Bite of Reality offered.

“It’s not just pen and paper. They’re walking around, they’re also getting to interact with adults,” said Louis. “A lot of times students get tired of seeing the same adults every day at school.”

As the event began, students trod lightly and approached the booths with caution. However, once they realized how much was in their bank account, some started splurging and reaping the fruits of their fictional labor.

Many students budgets ended up in the red after mismanaging their finances. Better now than later, though.

“It surprised me how expensive food was, like to eat healthier costs way more money. That’s why I’ve spent less money on entertainment and transportation because I’ve wanted to provide my child and family with better food,” said Felicia, a student at John Muir. “And childcare is really really, really expensive.”

Throughout the event, students exclaimed at the cost of some of life’s basic necessities. Bite of Reality gave them a hard-nosed crash course in budgeting that will hopefully prevent them from making the same mistakes in the future.

“We partnered with RMJ Foundation to launch this virtual money simulator. The kids get to experience the trials and tribulations of the world in a very safe environment,” said Andy Tien, the Vice President of Marketing at PSFCU. “Sure wish I were taught about money and financial education when I was their age!”

According to Mr. Tien, PSFCU will bring Bite of Reality to Pasadena High School with hopes of bringing it to the rest of the schools of Pasadena Unified School District as well.

You can visit Pasadena Service Federal Credit Union headquarters at 670 North Rosemead Boulevard, in Pasadena, or call (877) 297-4707 or visit their website Focusing in the greater San Gabriel Valley with 4 branches in Covina, Vernon, Pasadena, and John Muir High School Early College Magnet; they’re your community partner. You can also stay in touch with them on Facebook: and Twitter: @PasadenaServFCU





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