In 2013, Community State Bank saw an opportunity to partner with local business leaders and educators to teach high school students the importance of making smart financial decisions.
Today, that opportunity has developed into a comprehensive financial literacy program, known as MyLIFE — and 2023 marks 10 years of MyLIFE playing an active role in the curriculum of local high school students.
“We created this program to be as realistic as possible,” CSB Senior Vice President Neil Buchanan said. “These students are expected to graduate high school with the knowledge to build credit and manage a budget. MyLIFE provides students with an opportunity to learn those skills in a safe learning environment.”
MyLIFE was developed to change the way students look at money by placing them in real-life situations, such as buying a home, paying for utilities, saving for retirement, and more. During the school year, students have the opportunity to choose a career path that determines their starting salary for the event. They also have the opportunity to choose their marital status, number of dependents, pets, and a preferred retirement age.
Finally, the students are assigned a complete “life” — which includes their credit score, level of education, and student debt — all potential real-life situations.
Once the student’s “life” is assigned, they are directed to the gym, where high school staff and volunteers help guide students through essential life decisions. Each of the students are required to manage a budget as they travel station to station. Those stations are staffed by local business leaders who are experienced in specific industries such as real estate, car sales, banking, retail sales, insurance, health care, and investments.
“Many of the students will find themselves running out of ‘money’ during the program,” Union Grove High School Athletic Director David Pettit said. “This presents an opportunity for our staff and volunteers to sit down with these students and talk through their life choices that may have placed them in a difficult situation. It’s real for them and they learn to understand the importance of making smart spending decisions.”
In 2020, CSB took the program a step further by implementing a banking app to help guide students through the budgeting portion of the program. CSB partnered with BrownBoots Interactive to develop the MyLIFE Transaction Register App.
“Gen Z isn’t using paper transaction registers. They’re using apps or nothing at all. We wanted to make sure that our program was evolving with our students, so we created an app for them to use. It’s been a great addition and can be used long after they experience MyLIFE,” Buchanan said.
The MyLIFE program has been recognized at a state level by winning the Wisconsin Governor’s Financial Literacy award twice. Since being launched, the program has been introduced to over 7,000 students and six local schools (Badger High School, Shoreland Lutheran High School, Shepherds College, Union Grove High School, Waterford Union High School and Westosha Central High School) and has been so successful that a grade school edition was developed, MyLIFE Essentials.
CSB recently completed the 2023 MyLIFE program for Westosha Central High School in April and looks forward to upcoming MyLIFE events at Union Grove High School on Friday, May 19 and Waterford High School, on Thursday, May 25.
For more information about MyLIFE, please visit CSB.bank.