Lowell High School Students Get Reality Check at Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union’s 2018 MoneyStrong For Life Fair
More than 350 Lowell High School seniors got quite the reality check at Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union’s eighth annual MoneyStrong for Life Fair, held Wednesday, March 28th at the Tsongas Center. During the Fair, students role played themselves at age 25 and were tasked with making real-life financial decisions to successfully manage their income, savings, credit cards and the high cost of self-supporting.
“We are excited to bring real-life financial principles to the students to help them see and understand first-hand what it’s like to live as an adult in the world today,” said Mark S. Cochran, President and Chief Executive Officer of Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union. “We present them with challenges and opportunities to learn about the different ways they will be responsible for handling their personal finances in the future.”
Students chose their desired profession and were assigned a realistic income along with credit card debt, a savings account and student loan debt. Aspiring police officers, veterinarians, writers, choreographers, medical assistants, engineers and more moved from booth to booth making spending decisions on life essentials while managing a budget based on their monthly income.
At each of the 13 booths, students had to make choices such as which insurance plan would be best, if they should purchase a car or opt for a bus pass, how much they would spend on clothes and furniture, what kind of apartment they would live in, and whether or not to have roommates, all while weighing the delicate balance of needs vs. wants to ensure their decisions fit into their budget. They were also assigned a credit score and learned what they could do to raise it if they needed to.
“It applies to real life because you’re going to need all these things,” said Christopher, a high school senior. “You’re going to need furniture, you’re going to need a car and housing. You can’t just not learn how to manage this stuff, you have to learn it somehow. This is a great way to do it.”
Many students expressed the valuable lessons they learned from the event, which included realizing just how expensive the cost of living is when they’re on their own, how important saving money is, spending on needs rather than wants, being prepared for unexpected challenges, and how a budget can help them successfully manage their finances.
Students were tempted by high-cost items at the “Luxury” booth including cell phone plans and cable and internet packages. Some were also presented with unexpected scenarios at the “Reality Check” booth. There were students who lost their job, had babies, adopted a pet or got a speeding ticket. They then had to determine how to cope with these scenarios based on the cash and credit available to them.
“Things just don’t always go the way you plan,” said one student, who received a surprise when she was given a baby at the Reality Check booth.
As the final step, all student participants were required to visit the “Counseling” booth where they discovered whether they were living within their budgets. Some students had to make changes to their lifestyle when it was revealed they were spending more money than they were earning.
More than 70 people, the majority of which were employees from Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, volunteered to manage the booths and assist students in their decision-making process. Employees from Lowell General Hospital, Middlesex Community College and J. Bradford Investment Management also volunteered. Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union underwrote the cost of the event, including lunch for students and volunteers.
Photo cutline: Julia Espinola, Joe Ferry, Hanna Richards, Bria Petzoldalong, along with more than 300 seniors from Lowell High School, participated in Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union’s eighth annual MoneyStrong For Life Fair on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 at the Tsongas Center.