Life is a big deal. I know you think you’ve been living it all this time but you really haven’t. You’ve been living with the training wheels of life and the idea that those wheels are stripped off the second you throw that cap in the air is horrifying. The idea of the Credit for Life Fair is to lessen the fear of that blow known as graduation and make things feel a bit more manageable. Real life is still going to be tough, there’s no doubt about it. But from someone whose view on the world and his career afterward has been less than cheery lately, I feel a fraction better after attending the fair.
About 75 juniors and seniors from HHS took part in the third-annual fair, held March 16 at Cardinal Cushing School. Students imagine we are about 24 years old and have to manage our money on our own. Each student is given a portfolio and a career, plus the average salary for that career. (I was an actor, making $40,520 a year — this is before I become a big star, of course). We also receive a savings account, credit score, and some student loan or credit card debt. Since all of this varies from student to student, some start out in better financial shape than others, which is unfortunate but also realistic. (I had $2,200 in savings and a student loan payment of $150 a month.) You then go to booths for various things such as transportation, clothing, nutrition, housing and other things of the sort. At each booth, business people from the community give realistic options for us to choose from, such as purchasing a flashy Mustang or a basic Honda, or a no-frills cell phone versus the latest smartphone. You can also get a part-time job which will increase your income and ability to spend on other assets, or a roommate to split expenses with. Isn’t life fun!!!?? Sigh. Spending money from a credit card is also another option but I always stay away from those.
At one booth, we had to go through a professional job interview. At another book we got a “reality check.” By spinning the wheel of chance, students might get a winning lottery ticket or big inheritance. But other things they can get are straight garbage, like a flat tire or medical expense, adding more costs to an already tight budget. I got hit with a $50 doctor bill.
Once you went to all the booths and picked all your choices, you got to sit down with a counselor who would tally up all your expenses and see if you broke even. If you didn’t, you’d have to look back on all of your choices and make changes, over and over again if necessary, until your budget wasn’t a bust. Luckily I broke even on the first try with $86 to spare.
“The fair was really eye-opening because I realized I’m probably going to be broke,” said junior Emma Riley. “Thanks S Bank.”
Junior Angela Mirasola said the fair was very informative and “a great opportunity for all students.” The one thing she would change is the how deals were given. During the fair, a cowbell was rung for limited time offers, but people would rush to the booth and it would get chaotic.
Overall, the Credit For Life Fair was pretty realistic. There were some expenses we were required to pay that I wouldn’t have chosen in real life, such as a gym membership. And some students chose roommates that they readily admit they’d never live with in real life. But going through the process of making a budget and weighing expenses was extremely informative and very helpful.
The fair is organized each year by Mrs. Pereira, who teaches Accounting, Marketing, and Internship, and Mrs. Hansen, who teaches Internship, School-to-Work and Microsoft Office. Mrs. Pereira felt the fair was a fantastic interactive learning experience and she enjoyed how many students gained insight into adult expenses. She noted that many were shocked at how expensive everything was. Mrs. P loves the collaboration from both the community and school.