WEST WARWICK – The event, which took place last week at the media center at West Warwick High School, invited a group of about 30 students to test their knowledge of personal finances.
The BankNewport-sponsored financial education fair was an opportunity for high school financial academy students to apply what they learned in the classroom to real-world scenarios, said BankNewport CEO Jack Murphy.
“Should you buy an iPhone 5, or should you buy an iPhone 3?” Murphy said, addressing the students when the fair began. “Should you marry a Hyundai, a Kiu or a Mercedes? This is an important thing to keep in mind, because your personal finances are incredibly important and personal financial management will lead to success – I promise you. “
Representatives of local businesses, including the College Planning Center of Rhode Island, sat at tables around the media center; Community College of Rhode Island; Empire Beauty School; Premier Homes Realty; Tasca Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and Fiat and OceanPoint Insurance.
After everyone had chosen a career in advance, students were directed to visit each table, where they, as consumers, engaged in various businesses and made spending decisions based on their net income.
At a table run by Cruise Planners, students had to decide if they could afford to go on vacation; at the Stop & Shop table, students struggled to pay for food and other groceries.
And at the next table, the students wondered whether to adopt a dog or a cat.
Pets may be included among adoption fees, veterinary bills, and food and other supplies. But for seniors Yasumin Vongvilay and Ava Tavares, there really was no doubt whether it would be wise to adopt a furry friend or not.
“We have puppies,” Tavares said. “Having a pet is fun and it’s not too much money. It’s worth it.”
As 11th and 12th grade students walked through the room to see if they had a pedicure space on their budget or if they could justify paying for a more expensive gym membership, they also had the opportunity to taste how unpredictable life can be.
On the round of consequences, students had to spin to determine what unexpected situations they would face. Would they be charged $ 600 to repair a car or would they be charged $ 150 after incorrect wallet placement? Can they receive a $ 750 tax refund or get an $ 500 employee bonus?
Aidan Wallad was lucky – Wallad, a junior in high school, got into “selling on eBay”. He said he planned to use the $ 125 either for a car loan or to pay rent.
Concepts taught at the Academy of Finance, one of The 10 career and technical education programs offered at West Warwick are among the most important that students can learn before graduating, said Marc LeBlanc, program director.
Personal finance lessons taken from the program and put into practice during Tuesday’s fair are key, added Charon Rose, deputy treasurer for financial empowerment and community outreach at the Treasury Department of Rhode Island.
“It’s really important that you understand the strength of your dollar,” she told the students.
Rose, who graduated from high school in 2005, did not have personal finance courses when she was in school, she said. Rose, a first-generation high school and college graduate, was clueless about funding her education.
“I made a lot of stupid decisions, like going to school, which was terribly expensive and gave me only a partial scholarship,” she said. “You want to make really smart decisions about which school to go to.”
Thanks to the Rhode Island Promise Scholarship, the Community College of Rhode Island is a great choice for many, she said. And for students who want to work fast, business school is an option.
“It really makes sense to consider all your options,” she said. “Today, smart decisions and personal finances will get you light years ahead of a lot of people.”
The lessons of the Academy of Finance have already paid off for Ethan Aggor.
After being accepted to Yale University, Aggor was shocked to see how much it would cost him to attend Ivy League school.
“That number seemed really outrageous,” he said. “It was really hard to convince the family that this was a place I should go, that it would be worth it.”
Then Aggor remembered what he had learned in the classroom about negotiation. Instead of accepting the first number he received, he decided to appeal against the financial aid.
The financial aid package he offered Aggor was based on his parents’ tax returns. But his father works for a technology education company, and in the year the university looked on, he earned much more than usual because of the pandemic.
“They had it judged by the board … and looked at next year, and it completely changed my expected family contribution,” he said.
In the end, the costs that Aggor originally received were halved.
Aggor was “very grateful for that,” he said.
“It’s definitely something I couldn’t do if I didn’t know about the negotiation process,” he said. “This class literally gave me tens of thousands of dollars.” It’s quite amazing. “