By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury High School (SHS) seniors received a dose of reality recently when representatives from Central One Federal Credit Union (C1FCU), Shrewsbury Federal Credit Union (SFCU) and Ameriprise Financial collaborated in sponsoring the event designed to instruct students on creating budgets as well as coping with the curveballs that life can throw their way. The event was held April 4 in the school commons and was staffed by volunteers with professional expertise.
David Kaiser, assistant vice president of Retail Services at C1FCU, explained, “Students chose an occupation, were given an income, and then a credit score by rolling a dice. They were then given an electronic worksheet accessible by their iPads and they input their basic data. They will visit various tables which include topics and information about housing, health/nutrition, transportation, savings and retirement, credit and lending, charity, technology, furniture and luxury spending. At these tables they are offered different options and scenarios. The goal is to choose the right option based on what they can afford and then when finished they end up at budget counseling where counselors review what they’ve done and see if their decisions were wise. If they are in the red in any area the students would get sent back to rethink some of their strategies.”
At the successful completion of this exercise, the students received a t-shirt and a ticket for the grand prize drawing. This was the first Reality Fair held at Shrewsbury High School. Financial literacy classes have been held for many years where students learn about budgeting, saving, spending habits and borrowing money.
Shrewsbury School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Sawyer confirmed, “This is the first time we’ve down a full-blown Reality and Credit Fair; we’ve had a long-term relationship with Central One Federal Credit Union in terms of providing financial education to our seniors, but these events are happening across the commonwealth and we are fortunate to have received a grant from the state treasurer’s office to help us put this on. We are really pleased with Jean Marie Johnson and Beth Moison, SHS faculty who led this effort, and are glad to have so many students attend today.”
Shrewsbury senior Emily Lapomardo remarked, after meeting with her budget counselor, Kerry Crutchley from C1FCU, “I Just want to make sure I am in a good place before I spend more money and I just want to plan it out.”
A Shrewsbury police officer was on hand with a wheel to spin with several scenarios ranging from receiving a parking ticket, a DUI or a speeding violation to being the recipient of a returned wallet. He explained various expenses and surcharges related to transportation.
At the Savings & Retirement table which was manned by Jim Callahan from Fidelity, senior Ally Evans explained, “My goals for retirement are to be able to retire well and be able to go on family vacations.”
“The kids are really charged up, and it’s a great way to learn,” said Lisa Raabe of SFCU. “We do classes here but this event really pulls it all together and this is a really good way for them to do it on their own and make decisions, and a lot of them are being frugal.”
Parker Quirion, student, spun the Reality Check wheel and won a $400 lottery. This wheel represented some life’s surprises, such as unexpected expenses such as a friend’s wedding, a baby or good fortune such as winning a lottery.
Other stations at the event were charitable giving and budget counseling tables. Students needed to have a balanced budget before qualifying for a grand prize ticket.