Wednesday, April 03, 2013
I spent this morning at the Tsongas Arena helping to staff the housing booth at the Money Strong for Life Fair organized by the Jeanne d'Arc Credit Union and attended by nearly 300 seniors from Lowell High School. This is the third year that the fair has been held and each time it has gotten better and bigger (a class from Methuen High School participated this year). The purpose of the fair is to introduce students to the realities of managing one's money in a real-world simulation. Based on pre-interviews, students are placed in a job and then must visit the tables set up around the floor of the arena with each table supplying either necessities or luxuries. The large table in the middle of the room is "credit counseling" which is where many of the students end up after discovering that their income is inadequate to fund their desired lifestyle. The tables cover clothing, education, nutrition/health, luxury items, furniture, housing, insurance, savings, transportation, credit, and job skills. A "reality check" table gives students a dose of real life by confronting them with unexpected and unbudgeted situations that throw the best of budgets into disarray. This type of financial literacy training is of tremendous benefit to these high school students. (Many adults would benefit from it, as well). Jeanne d'Arc Credit Union is to be commended for the scale of its support of this effort. Not only was the arena rented and lunch provided to the students, but more than 60 employees of the credit union helped staff the tables at the event.