Students practice financial literacy and planning ahead

Apr 16, 2024

In high school, many teens across the country take their first step into financial independence and get their first job. 

However, not every student has yet experienced the shock of receiving that first paycheck and seeing their take home pay is significantly lower than what they may have anticipated. 

Dartmouth High School juniors had the opportunity to save themselves that shock with a day dedicated to financial literacy. 

On Thursday, April 11, the school held its first ever “Credit for Life Fair,” which was coordinated by Lucia Rebelo, a financial literacy officer with Bay Coast Bank, and Robert Perrotti, the lead teacher for the Business, Innovation and Technology Department at the high school.

At the fair, students used their laptops to fill out simulated financial plans for the future. Visiting booths such as transportation, education, career and retirement, students had the opportunity to see the reality of financial planning.

Rebelo said Bay Coast Bank added the technology component to its fair following the Covid pandemic, finding the addition allows students more time to meet one-on-one with the volunteers and really hear about their firsthand experiences.

In regard to the fair, Rebelo said, “The value is this is putting real life into practice,” adding how appreciative she is of the schools who take the time to prepare their students for their financial futures.

With the technology component, Seniors Olivia Arruda and Skyla Raposo were available from the computer science class to provide technical assistance as some students were having trouble with the Wi-Fi connection.

The seniors said they were glad the juniors were getting this opportunity as this was something their class didn’t get a chance to experience.

Perrotti said the school used to hold a “Reality Day,” which covered similar topics, but that hadn’t been held since around 2016. 

He said the fair allows students to learn how to plan ahead, such as setting up a savings account with compound interest.

It also allows students the opportunity to meet with people outside their school, he said. Perrotti emphasized the importance of providing the students with experiences inside and outside of school that will prepare them for their future.

Dabra Maltais, vice president of wealth management at Bay Coast Bank, said she has spent almost 50 years working in finance and believes the fair is a big “eye opener” for students.

“These kids think they are going to get out of school and get apartments and cars until I explain to them what comes out of their paycheck each week,” Maltais said.

She said her main advice for students is to save, but within reason.

“You’re only a kid once. You’re in your 20s — enjoy yourself,” Maltais said. While it’s important to have savings in case of an emergency, she emphasized the importance of still experiencing life.

“Before they rush into anything, think it out, write it down on paper and know exactly where their finances stand,” she added.

Ted Branco, vice president of cash management team leader, said he’s been with Bay Coast Bank for the last eight years. 

His advice for students is to pick a career that they’ll not only enjoy, but will also pay them well.

“I think it really is important to save and it's also important not to live paycheck to paycheck,” Branco said.

Junior Bryce Desirey was among the first to complete the budgeting exercise. 

“It was fun,” he said. “Got to learn a bunch of different things — got to save and put stuff into retirement — just find out what I’ve got coming for me later in life.”

Desirey said he was aware of a lot that was highlighted at the fair, but now he has a better understanding of what to do to meet his financial goals.

Junior Sarah Daggett said, “I think it really helped me learn how my life could be in the future and how I can actually budget and save money.”

Daggett added she was surprised at how expensive everything is and Junior Kailey Hamilton agreed.

Hamilton said, “It was cool to know how important it is to budget correctly and that you’re living at your means and not going over what you don’t have.”

Doing this exercise, she said, “It felt really important to me.”