Mashpee High School seniors received a reality check Thursday when they confronted financial decisions at the third annual Credit for Life Fair.
In his introduction, superintendent Brian A. Hyde reminded students that life is both challenging and rewarding.
“You also receive psychic income by helping others,” he said. “This is the first step in becoming happy, successful, productive adults.”
Sponsored by the Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank at several area high schools, the goal of the event is to teach students financial skills. This year, the Mashpee event was organized by senior Jillian Sobolewski, who said that she received her own “reality check” on life expenses after completing business and technology teacher Carol Riley’s financial literacy course. When she learned to calculate the total cost of living for one person, she was amazed.
“I wanted everyone else to understand [what I learned], too,” she said.
Upon selecting a career and making major purchases at various stations for necessities like food, clothing, housing, and insurance, students were required to spin a wheel and play the “Game of Life.” The spin determined the number of spaces each student would move his or her piece on a game board, landing on an unanticipated expense.
After spending money on “dining out,” Alex Sullivan began to feel discouraged.
“I’m finding out that I’m going to be very poor and it’s very depressing,” he said.
He received “musician” as his profession for the event, but plans to major in psychology at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) post-graduation.
Like Alex, many students were disappointed when they discovered that their “job” could not cover the expenses they made. Senior Audrey Sylvia, who was planning to pursue a career in social work, seemed overwhelmed when she learned she might need a second job. When asked whether she will reconsider her career choice, she appeared torn. “I don’t know since it only pays $32,000.”
The students who finished the game the quickest had made strategic financial choices, making their purchases carefully and saving money for retirement.
“I got a second job first so I knew I was going to end up with more than I needed,” senior Anika L. Bieg said.
Students who received budgeting experience outside of school also appeared less stressed and more successful at the game. Robert Hendricks was unsurprised by his $99-per-month smartphone bill because he currently works two part-time jobs to pay for his cellphone’s data plan. Another student, Renee L. Thompson, is saving money by working at McDonald’s in Falmouth to pay for her college tuition.
“It’s a good way to experience life, to see the responsibilities you have to pay for yourself,” she said.