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Students learn budget tips during financial fitness fair

LIMESTONE, Maine — On Tuesday, April 30, more than  300 Aroostook County high school juniors congregated at Loring Job Corps in Limestone for a hands-on money management and budgeting experience.

The 12th annual Financial Fitness Fair was hosted by the Aroostook Chapter of Maine Credit Unions, which includes volunteers from Acadia Federal Credit Union, The County FCU, and NorState FCU. During this event, a $1,000 scholarship was presented to one Ashland Community High School student who attended the fair in 2018.

“Financial Fitness – A Money Management Experience”is an award-winning, half-day event that targets high school juniors and is similar to “The Game of Life.” Students receive a hypothetical career, credit score and monthly income, then visit booths associated with various expenses. They fill out a monthly budget form with costs, such as transportation, housing, clothing, food, student loans, insurance and other expenses. 

Credit union volunteers Brendan Beaulieu, far left, and Amy Dubay, far right, work with students in the credit booth during the recent financial fitness fair in Limestone. This booth taught students from around The County about fundamentals including auto loans, credit scores, interest rates, and affordability.
(Courtesy of NorState Federal Credit Union)

Credit union volunteers work with students as they make their way through this budgeting scenario, with the goal of ending with a budget that does not exceed monthly income, while also putting money into a savings account. Similar to what happens in real life, randomly selected students even experienced financial emergencies along the way. If students fell into the negative, they were sent back to adjust expenses to either break even or have money left over.

“The Loring Financial Fitness Fair is one of our chapter’s signature events,” said Denise Duperré, chairperson of the Aroostook County Chapter of Maine Credit Unions. “Every high school in The County is invited to bring their junior class here to learn meaningful financial skills. It’s a learning event, but we keep it fun, which is why we have great student participation.”

Students who attended the fair have the opportunity to apply for a $1,000 college scholarship.

The 2018 scholarship recipient, David Wortman of Ashland Community High School, attended the event. He spoke to fair attendees and encouraged students to apply for the 2019 scholarship.

“The Financial Fitness Fair scholarship was a very easy, simple first step going into my senior year of high school,” said Wortman. “This scholarship brings me one step closer to fulfilling my goal of becoming a civil engineer.”

As part of his 2018 application essay, Wortman offered insight into his 2018 fair experience.

“The Financial Fitness Fair helped me develop a realistic view of the next few years to come,” he said. “This was an opportunity for local experts to share their tips on how to be financially stable.”

Attendees enjoyed bagged lunches prepared by the Loring Job Corps culinary students. To cap the day, dozens of students were randomly selected to win $25 and $50 Visa gift cards or cash, while others had an opportunity to spend 30 seconds to catch cash in a money-blowing booth.  

Scholarship applications and eligibility criteria are available at all three Aroostook chapter credit union websites. The deadline to apply is June 29, 2019.

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