NEWBURYPORT — The Institution for Savings’ 10th annual Credit for Life Fair, which typically draws over 1,000 North Shore high school juniors, will be held virtually Thursday and Friday.
The event, which coincides with the 200th anniversary of the bank’s founding, was supposed to be held at Masconomet Regional High School.
Usually, students walk from booth to booth, learning important finance lessons and imagining all the things they would need to budget for as a 25-year-old working professional.
Based on professions of their choosing, students are given personalized spending worksheets with monthly incomes, a credit score, a savings account and a credit card spending limit.
In respect to social distancing, students will learn similar lessons this year, but remotely through the IFS Credit for Life Fair app.
Amesbury, Pentucket Regional, Newburyport and Triton Regional are among the high schools participating.
“It’s been such an invaluable event for our students,” Triton guidance director Megan Ober said.
Triton even used to host the event but according to Ober, it eventually outgrew the space available.
“I can’t overemphasize how powerful it for the students to have a simulation of real life financial outcomes,” she said. “For teenagers, understandably, bills and money don’t really seem real to them, and through no fault of their own. For most students, it’s just not something that they’ve had to think about or budget for.”
The fair allows students to learn about managing money and savings — especially for groceries, housing and utilities — using their income.
“The Credit for Life Fair has just been so great in giving students an opportunity to really think through those things,” Ober said, adding that this is the time students begin to think about their futures and careers.
While participation has always been optional for students, typically about 60 to 75% of juniors attend the fair, Ober said.
In a press release about the event, WCVB sports anchor Mike Lynch lauded the opportunity, saying he came across the fair when scouting student athletes for his “High 5” segment. Overall, Lynch said he was “impressed” with how students took advantage of the opportunity.
“I remember saying to someone at the time that I wished my own daughters had something like this when they were in high school,” he said. “It is an incredibly important lesson that the bank is teaching these students — something they hopefully will remember long after they leave high school.”
“Whether the students are walking up to booths in a field house or navigating the booths on their phone, the intent is the same: To stay within their budget, put their needs ahead of their wants and most importantly, to learn important money lessons that will last them a lifetime,” bank CEO and President Michael J. Jones said in a statement. “The app will give them the information, but in the end, it is the students who will have to make the right choices. There’s no app that can do that for them.”
For more information on the event, go to www.institutionforsavings.com.