MARLBOROUGH – Food, rent, phone, car, insurance – for most people, monthly expenses have been a part of life for years, even decades.
For students at Marlborough High School, the annual Reality Fair on Oct. 24 was a chance to learn firsthand about such expenses.
Upon entering the fair, each student received a folder complete with a checklist, calculator and one month’s “salary,” based on their job they had chosen.
The students then ventured from station to station, where volunteers showed them the costs of everything from housing and student loans to entertainment.
At the housing station, run by representatives from Re/Max Executive Realty, they showed examples of what it costs for studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments.
“It’s enough to get them in, but they would need a roommate,” said Elaine McDonald of Re/Max.
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In the center of the room, the Wheel of Fortune drew students willing to take a chance. Some students came away with extra cash while others ended up with unexpected expenses or even an unplanned pregnancy.
“It’s just an example of what can happen in life,” said Amanda Cataldo, one of the volunteers who operated the wheel.
Students who found themselves out of money – especially after a bad turn at the Wheel of Fortune – went over to the credit counselors to help them work out their problems in their budgets.
Representatives from Worcester State University and Quinsigamond Community College presented the costs of student loans and also offered information on scholarships and financial aid.
Even clothing, furniture, “me time” and entertainment could run up some bucks, as students discovered.
“Clothing was the big one,” said student Gregory Fisher.
For student Julia Fernandes, furniture was the big surprise as far as expenses were concerned.
“It’s a learning experience all around,” said Marguerite Thorsen of the Marlborough Rotary Club.
The Rotary Club co-sponsored the event with the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce and the state treasurer’s Financial Education Grants for Massachusetts Schools program.
Local businesses taking part in the fair included Al Brodeur Auto Center, Apex Entertainment, Avidia Bank, Kits for Kids, Marlborough City Council, Metro Community Development Corp., St. Mary’s Credit Union and Vin Bin.