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Checkbook Reality Check


Hundreds of Middletown High School seniors got quite the reality check this morning at a “Credit for Life Fair.” Sponsored by Liberty Bank, and manned by dozens of bank volunteers, the fair teaches teens the financial realities of independent living.

Each student selected a career … anything from hairdresser to firefighter or doctor … and then received a workbook, personalized to that career and complete with a monthly salary, and credit rating. Based on this information, students were asked to make spending decisions about such things as housing, furniture, transportation, insurance, cell phones, food, clothing and more.

At the conclusion of the fair, teens added up their expenditures to see if they’d be covered by their salary and savings. Quite a few, who overspent, were then confronted with the option of getting additional salary from a part-time job, or by scaling back their spending.

One of the favorite stops at the fair was the Reality booth, where students got a taste of what their parents face every day … the unexpected. Some had to cough up money to cover, say, a replacement electronic device; while others had windfalls. Students were also tempted to spend on nice-to-haves at the Fun, Fun, Fun booth.

Many students, surprisingly, did not think credit-card spending was a good idea and opted for using savings for their expenditures. One student voiced this quandary at the end of the exercise, “What do you do if you have a lot of money left over at the end of the month?” (We should all have such problems.)