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Institution for Savings’ 7th Annual Credit for Life Fair

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April 10, 2017
800 ‘PROFESSIONALS WITH PAYCHECKS’ TAKE OVER MASCONOMET FIELDHOUSE TUESDAY
Institution for Savings’ 7th Annual Credit for Life Fair Provides 900 Juniors With Valuable Hands-On Lessons in Managing Finances

Newburyport, MA – Consider these sobering financial facts: Last year, college graduates left school with an average debt of $37,172 -- one of the highest average student debts per borrower in the country. One third of all American adults do not pay their bills on time. More than half of millennials (about 54 percent) say debt is their ‘biggest financial concern.’ And 56% of Americans have no ‘rainy day fund.’

These scary financial stats go on and on, and suggest a troubling lack of personal finance knowledge and skill among adults today. But there’s hope. Data released in 2016 from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's Investor Education Foundation revealed that high school students who are required to take personal finance courses have better average credit scores and lower debt delinquency rates as young adults.

Since Massachusetts doesn’t mandate financial education in public schools today, one bank has stepped in to help. The Institution for Savings hosts the 7th Annual Credit for Life Fair next Tuesday, April 11, from 8:30 AM to 12 Noon at Masconomet Regional High School. Held annually for 900+ juniors from Newburyport, Beverly, Rockport, Gloucester, Ipswich, Pentucket Regional, Triton Regional and Masconomet Regional High Schools, the Fair’s purpose is to help local high school students develop personal budgeting skills that they will use throughout their lives. This year, 20 students from Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School will also attend, in anticipation of the entire class participating in 2018.

The Institution for Savings event is one of the largest in the state, with more than 800 students and 175 community volunteers expected to attend, and is a huge hit among students, teachers and especially parents every year. “The goal of the Fair is to help empower students to be proactive about their financial futures by beginning to develop sound personal finance habits,” said Michael J. Jones, Institution for Savings President and CEO. “Each year we hear from parents and teachers after the event that they wish this had been around when they were in school!”

Unlike most Fairs, the Institution for Savings event is underwritten and organized solely by the Bank. While it takes a great deal of staff time and energy as well as money, Mr. Jones believes it is well worth it.

“Recent statistics indicating that students are leaving high school with severely limited financial knowledge and skills are concerning, and this event is one way that we can help change that,” said Mr. Jones. “As a mutual savings bank, a key component of our mission is to focus on the long-term future not just of the Bank, but also of the communities we serve, and to improve the quality of life for all those within those communities. The Credit for Life Fair has been overwhelmingly successful here and in other regions at helping high school students navigate the myriad of financial decisions they will need to make as they go off into the world of work or college.”

How it works: Bank officials meet with juniors at all schools in January. Students then select a profession and are assigned a corresponding salary, credit score, savings account and credit card limit. At the Fair, armed with portfolios, pencils, calculators and personalized budget plans, students assume the roles of 25-year old ‘professionals with paychecks’ and make life ‘purchases’ at 15 booths including Housing, Transportation, Food & Nutrition, Savings & Retirement, and more, all while staying within the confines of their monthly salary. During the Fair students might also be faced with a variety of reality check events: their ‘car’ breaks down and needs extensive repairs; their ‘pet’ needs to go to the vet, etc. Students will need to incorporate these unexpected costs into their budgets.

More than 175 business and community members have stepped up to volunteer at the booths, which include Housing, Transportation, Furniture, Utilities, Clothing, Savings and Retirement, Safety and Security, Community Service, Food and Nutrition, Reality Check, Fun Fun Fun!, Health and Wellness, Education and Training, Part-time Jobs and Credit Counseling. This year’s esteemed volunteer pool includes doctors, attorneys, CEOs, CPAs, police officers, Chamber executives, retired educators, financial planners, and lenders. Eighty of the volunteers are the Bank’s own employees and members of the Board of Trustees.

The Credit for Life Fair is just one of several ongoing financial literacy programs the Bank delivers to students. Bank employees visit 12 local elementary schools every April and May as part of its ‘Teach Children to Save’ initiative and hold ‘Get Smart About Credit’ assemblies for area high school seniors. It also underwrites and staffs educational school banks at Newburyport, Ipswich, Beverly, Triton Regional and Masconomet Regional High Schools.

Event Details: The 7th Annual Credit for Life Fair will take place Tuesday, April 11th from 8:30 AM until 12 Noon at Masconomet Regional High School in Boxford. Media are invited to attend. For information, contact Mary Anne Clancy at 978-225-1324 or mclancy@institutionforsavings.com. To watch a video of the 2016 Fair, visit the Bank’s website at institutionforsavings.com and click on Videos, or visit the Bank’s YouTube page and watch here.