Friday, 24 May 2019

Credit For Life Fair offers reality lesson for Weymouth High seniors – Wicked Local

A roll of the dice by Weymouth High School senior Divy Vyos required him to transfer $100 from his mock checking account into a savings account during a Credit For Life Fair at the Braintree-Weymouth Elks Lodge Thursday. 

“I landed on a, `swing for a trip,’ Vyos said after he rolled the dice on a Reality Check game board, managed by Lauren Pedretti, a  financial specialist for Quincy Credit Union.

Pederetti said the reality check game board helps the students understand how they need to plan their finances for addressing unexpected difficulties. 

“The Reality Check shows a need for emergency savings or a visit to the veterinarian,” she said.

The annual Credit For Life Fair for school administrators to help the senior class anticipate financial challenges while in college and when they are employed. Students are required to choose jobs and make purchases within the limits of their salary.

Principal Alan Strauss said the benefit of financial planning leads to rewards in the future.

“The prize now is not as important as the prize is in the future,” he told the students before the fair began.

Straus said he was taught that it is not important how much a person earns, but how well they plan their spending.

“All we have to do is plan for the future,” he said. “I should have retired already. I planned to be retired at age 55. I intended to live on a beachfront home in San Diego. I was all set, and then my son was born, and with his disabilities, I will be working ’til age 75. I did not start saving at age 21. Always look to the future prize.”

More than a dozen local business leaders took part in the credit fair and helped guide the seniors with buying a car, purchasing auto insurance, paying college tuition, food, selecting a health insurance plan, purchase furniture and choosing to rent an apartment they can afford.

The seniors were advised to plan on spending between $350-$500 annually on clothing and up to $1,400 per month for renting a two-bedroom studio apartment.

The seniors also were advised to plan on spending roughly $4,100 for a 2006 Toyota and $9,800 to purchase a 2014 Ford Fusion.

Mary Shumen, a loan closure officer with Coastal Heritage Bank, said the seniors’ realization of having to pay for basic necessities is usually a `rude awakening.’

“That is when the light bulb goes off,” she said. “Their parents had paid for it before.”

South Shore Bank employees provided the students with credit counseling as they contemplated purchases.

“We are teaching the students the choices they make in life can totally affect their credit score,” said Vicki Leinas, a retail bank officer.

Senior TJ Keefe said the fair is a reminder there is a lot of “extra stuff” that he will have to plan for during the years ahead.

“I’m just trying to roll with the punches and figure out how to finance a home, a car and all that stuff,” he said as the fair got underway.

Senior Zeyad Gembri said his classmates had to pick a job and know what they can spend based on their salary.

“They get to know how much they make and there are deductions,” he said.

Gembri said his take-home pay amounted to $2,954 which he received every two weeks following deductions for Social Security in addition to state and federal income taxes. 

Senior Will Conway said the fair is offering him a “real world experience” while attending high school.

“They don’t always show us that experience,” he said. “We need to move on after high school and through college. By giving us this event, we are being given real-world aspects to figure out.” 

Scott W. Ambroceo, a chief financial officer for Equitable Bank, said the fair is intended to help the seniors learn, “core principles of managing money.”

“A bad financial decision now can go with them through college and can result in a bad credit score,” he said.

Ambroceo said the fair is also intended to help the seniors realize they can experience unexpected expenses while planning money expenditures for basic needs such as food, clothing and rent.

“There is going to be someone here who will be chosen randomly that will get a speeding ticket from police,” he said.

Senior Jake Thomas said he had the misfortune of getting a $240 citation from police.

“I was caught speeding, texting, and not wearing a seatbelt,” he said. “It was an unexpected expense.”

Oasis Day Spa owner Julie Mahoney said the fair is helping the seniors realize how they soon will be responsible for paying bills their parents previously paid.

“They will be responsible a lot of their own personal services and expenses,” she said. “They will want to do things like travel or have a pet. They would not normally think about these expenses, but they will eventually be responsible for them. We are trying to help think real time and about what they will be spending above and beyond.”

Army Staff Sgt. Jason Pickard, a recruiter, said enlisting in the Army is a viable option for seniors because they can receive health care benefits and assistance with paying college tuition.

“This is not a last resort,” he said. “It is a viable option for students that they don’t realize.”

Pickard said his military deployments have included serving in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Alaska, and Hawaii.

“My monthly pay looks less than it is, but you are not paying for food or rent,” he said.

The base pay for an Army Private E-1 is $1,554 per month before deductions are made for income taxes.

“There are up to 150 job opportunities,” Pickard said.

Pickard said soldiers being discharged honorably from the Army are eligible to have 100 percent of their college tuition paid under the 9/11 GI Bill.

School Superintendent Jennifer Curtis-Whipple urged the seniors to remember what they learned during the fair.

“Think through your expenses and what you will deal with,” she said.

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