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April 11, 2013

Bank helps students understand financial world

NEWBURY — Remember the financial crisis of several years ago when millions of Americans were so deeply in debt that it had a ripple effect heard round the world? One regional bank is hoping that never happens again by educating students early on how to better manage their money and stay out of debt. And in a fun way.

For three hours Tuesday morning, more than 550 students from Newburyport, Ipswich, Pentucket and Triton Regional high schools stepped out of their roles as 11th-graders and became 25-year-old professionals with paychecks at the 3rd Annual Institution for Savings Credit for Life Fair at Triton Regional High School. The event was sponsored and fully underwritten by the Institution for Savings.

The Credit for Life Fair is a nationally recognized half-day program designed to help high school students develop personal financial management skills that they will use throughout their lives. The Institution for Savings event is one of less than two dozen similar events in Massachusetts this year.

Participating students chose a profession several months ago and were assigned a corresponding salary. At the fair, armed with portfolios, pencils, calculators and personalized budget plans they were challenged to make life “purchases” at 14 booths while staying within the confines of their monthly salary.

During the course of the fair the students also faced a variety of scenarios: their “car” breaks down and needs extensive repairs; their “pet” needs to go to the vet, etc. They needed to incorporate these unexpected costs into their budgets.

During and at the conclusion of the fair they visited the Credit Counseling Booth staffed with real financial managers, where they were able to check their “credit” and determine whether they were indeed living within their “budget.”

More than 120 business and community members were also on hand as volunteers and assisted at the 14 ‘Reality Booths,” which included Housing, Transportation, Furniture, Insurance, Utilities, Clothing, Savings and Retirement, Safety and Security, Community Service, Reality Check, Luxury, Health and Nutrition, Education and Training and Credit Counseling.

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