WEST WARWICK — An event held last week in the West Warwick High School media center invited a group of about 30 students to put their personal finance knowledge to the test.
Sponsored by BankNewport, the Financial Literacy Fair was an opportunity for high school Finance Academy students to apply what they had learned in the classroom to real-world scenarios, said BankNewport CEO Jack Murphy .
“Should you buy the iPhone 5 or should you buy the iPhone 3?” Murphy said, addressing the students as the fair began. “Should you buy the Hyundai, the Kia or the Mercedes? These are important things to think about, because your personal finances are incredibly important and managing your personal finances will lead to success, I promise you.”
The tables set up around the media center were led by representatives from area businesses, including the Rhode Island Center for College Planning; Rhode Island Community College; Empire Beauty School; Premier Homes Real Estate; Tasca Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and Fiat, and OceanPoint Insurance Agency.
Once each had chosen a career in advance, the students were directed to visit each table, where they would participate as consumers with the various businesses and make 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; a Stop & Shop table had students deal with paying for food and other grocery items.
And at another table, students pondered whether or not to adopt a dog or a cat.
Between adoption fees, vet bills, and costs for food and other supplies, pets can be expensive. But for seniors Yasumin Vongvilay and Ava Tavares, there was really no question about whether or not it would be wise to adopt a furry friend.
“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 graders made their way around the room, figuring out if they had room in their budgets for a pedicure or if they could justify paying for the most expensive gym membership, they were also given a taste of how unpredictable is life. can be.
In the Wheel of Consequences, students had to take a spin to determine what unexpected situation they would face. Would they be charged $600 to fix the car, or would they lose $150 after losing a wallet? Could they receive a $750 tax refund or receive a $500 employee bonus?
Aidan Wallad got lucky: A junior in high school, Wallad landed on “for sale on eBay.” He said he planned to apply that $125 to a car loan or rent payment for him.
The concepts taught in 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 they graduate, said Marc LeBlanc, program director.
The personal finance lessons gleaned from the program and put into practice during Tuesday’s fair are crucial, added Charon Rose, deputy treasurer for financial empowerment and community outreach at the Rhode Island Department of the Treasury.
“It is very important that you understand the power of your dollar,” he told the students.
Rose, who graduated from Classical High School in 2005, had no personal finance courses available when she was in school, she said. A first-generation graduate of both high school and college, Rose had no idea how to finance her education.
“I made a lot of stupid decisions, like going to a school that was incredibly expensive and only gave me a partial scholarship,” he said. “You want to make really smart decisions about which school you’re going to go to.”
With its Rhode Island Promise scholarship, the Community College of Rhode Island is an excellent choice for many, he said. And for students who want to quickly enter the workforce, trade school is an option.
“It really makes sense to weigh all your options,” he said. “Making a smart decision today and taking care of personal finances will put you light years ahead of many people.”
For Ethan Aggor, the lessons learned at the Academy of Finance have already paid off.
After being accepted to Yale University, Aggor was shocked to see how much it would cost him to attend the Ivy League school.
“The number seemed really outrageous,” he said. “It was really hard to convince my family that this is a place I should go, that it would be worth it.”
Then Aggor remembered what he had learned in class about negotiation. Instead of accepting the first number he was given, he decided to appeal his financial aid award.
The financial aid package Aggor had been offered was based on his parents’ tax returns. But his father works for a technology education company, and in the year he studied college he had earned much more than usual due to the pandemic.
“They had a board review it … and they took a look at next year, and it completely changed my expected family contribution,” he said.
In the end, the cost that Aggor had initially received was cut in half.
Aggor was “very appreciative of that,” he said.
“It’s definitely something I couldn’t have done if I hadn’t known about the negotiation process,” he said. “This class has literally given me tens of thousands of dollars. It’s pretty amazing.