May 6, 2010
Dryden students learn about paying the bills
Exercise hones money management skills as they choose career, decide what they can afford
DRYDEN — John Pamel and Reine Ayers faced life’s choices Wednesday for how to spend their money each month, Pamel as an English teacher in a beach city and Ayers as a marketing manager in New York City.
They factored in their family lives, Pamel as a single man with no children, Ayers as a married woman with no children. They reviewed loans and credit cards, food bills, transportation options, housing, utility bills, insurance, TV and Internet access, and other expenses.
The two Dryden High School sophomores ended up with money left over, as they finished an exercise where business students tried out real-life scenarios for financial management.
The exercise, called Money Smarts, was sponsored by the school’s business department and CFCU Community Credit Union. It brought about 70 students in grades nine through 12 to the middle school gymnasium to visit 15 stations where experts showed them where their money would go every month, said Billie Downs, the teacher for the career and financial management course.
“Wow, that’s a lot,” Pamel said when he saw lists of monthly payments for student loans. “I really don’t want to go to college.”
“Yes, you do,” said Anjali Consalvi, the CFCU staff member at the table.
Pamel was looking at total debt for college, including $66,105 for a state resident at a public four-year college, $102,322 for a nonresident and $127,965 for a private four-year college. The payments ranged from $977 monthly on a 25-year loan to $777 on a 40-year loan for a private college. State college payments were about $300 less.
Pamel and Ayers both chose public transportation over buying a car. They decided on monthly donations to the SPCA, Ayers for $50 and Pamel for $75.
Both said they gained a stronger understanding of what their parents deal with. Pamel said he is the fourth of five boys in his family, so his parents’ grocery bills can be huge.
“This is a great exercise,” said Bob Pass, spokesman for New York State Electric & Gas Corp., who discussed utility costs with the students. “They learn something about budgeting.”
Pass said NYSEG takes part in similar learning events in the Binghamton area. Downs saw one of them at Maine-Endwell High School and decided it might work for Dryden.
Rick Willers, manager of CFCU’s Auto Connect, talked to the students about car insurance. He said Pamel and Ayers were “making valid decisions.”
One station was called “life’s unexpected,” where students spun a wheel with 20 surprise events.
The beneficial ones included finding buried treasure of $225,000, attending a friend’s wedding for $300 and winning a lottery of $25. The disasters included a tornado for a $175,000 loss and a flooded basement for a $500 loss.
Senior Justin Niziol, who chose geological scientist as his career, and junior Wesley Swanson-Parker, a national park ranger, were both single men in their careers.
“This is too much money, too soon, to have a wife,” Swanson-Parker said.
Sophomores Julia Scheftic and Sabrina Jenner liked the realism of the exercise. Scheftic, who was a veterinary assistant, decided she would be married with two children. Jenner, a physical therapist, was married with one child.
“It seems more realistic to have at least one kid for this, because most of us will have children,” Jenner said.
“Especially at age 27,” Scheftic said.
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