By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – The lessons on tap at Shrewsbury High School (SHS) May 1 were about finances, giving as many as 500 juniors and seniors a “Reality Check” as they navigated through various economic and life scenarios at the school’s Financial Literacy Fair.
This is the second year that this fair has been held at SHS, co-sponsored by Central One Federal Credit Union, Shrewsbury Federal Credit Union, Avidia Bank, Spectrum Enterprises and Unibank.
“The goal of this event is to give the students experience as to what its like to have to put together a budget and face that reality of what it cost to live someplace, the cost of food and what it costs for car insurance and a car loan, furniture, clothing and the importance of setting aside money for savings and retirement,” explained David Kaiser, assistant vice president with Central One Federal Credit Union.
SHS student Jesse Rogers explained that they were given an assigned profession and income. His assigned profession was as a business owner. He decided to spend a little bit less for luxury items and opted to share a two-bedroom apartment to save money.
Lisa Raabe from Shrewsbury Federal Credit Union Marketing added, “We think this is a great follow up to the classes that we do with Central One; [students] realize “Wow, I’ve overspent” – whether its pocket money or whether they are doing vacations. It really gives them a chance to make the mistakes now.”
The fair featured booths staffed by volunteers who offered guidance to students regarding their areas of expertise. Booths included Housing, Transportation, Health and Nutrition, Technology, Luxury Items, Savings & Retirement, Charitable Giving and Credit.
Volunteers Missy Hollenback and Julie Parent were manning the charitable giving booth.
“We are teaching them that charities can be good, but you don’t want to give all your excess money to the first charity that comes along because over the course of the year you are going to find other charities,” Hollenback said.
When asked if she had any money left for charitable giving, junior Victoria Pescaro said, “Well, I spent my last dollar on charity.”
When asked if she was making wise financial decisions, Ryan Shea replied, “Absolutely, I’ve been trying to save money for the future.”
Her scenario was as a recent college graduate employed as a teacher. She is living in a studio apartment and wants to enjoy things like concerts.
Event organizer, Jean Marie Johnson (along with Becky Moisan) explained that a new component this year was a presentation by Dr. Bridget Cooper who is a counselor, life coach and author of “Feed the Need Teen Edition” who talked to students about dealing with time management, stress and other topics. Each student received a copy of her book.
Matt Armenti, branch manager from UniBank, shared that he would give the following advice to his younger self: “Don’t open that credit card, don’t buy that new car and don’t spend money unless you absolutely have to.”