How Credit For Life prepares students for life after high school
By Abigail Olsen, Marketing Intern at Cape Cod 5
June 22, 2022
On May 25, Cape Cod 5 successfully completed its 12th Credit for Life season with its final Fair of the school year held at Sturgis Charter Public School. The Bank’s local sponsorship of this nationally recognized program aims to empower high school seniors to improve their financial literacy and well-being by allowing them to assume the position of a 25-year-old adult navigating the costs of life. This ranges from deciding mode of transportation (and associated costs), to determining how much money will need to be set aside for social activities, and even choosing what type of healthcare is desired, if any. These are all things that can be easily overlooked when first budgeting, so the program’s format of putting real prices on life’s expenses was very practical as many people don’t understand the true cost of furnishing an apartment, for example, until they are face to face with a daunting receipt from Wayfair or Bed Bath & Beyond.
Last spring, I had the opportunity to participate first-hand in a Credit for Life Fair as a senior at Barnstable High School, and I can confidently say that this program is successful in provoking thought and providing perspective for students at an age where many are gearing up to head off to college or enter the workforce. The fair pushed me to be realistic about my wants versus my needs. So, although my decision to buy a public transportation pass in lieu of a brand-new car was not the most glamorous, I was brought to the understanding that it was the most sensible considering my other expenses.
As a freshman at the University of Massachusetts Amherst this past year, I was constantly having to remind myself of what I’d learned at the Credit for Life Fair. With my savings account draining quickly from tuition bills, living expenses and (regretfully) Door Dash, it became more crucial than ever to reconsider my spending and remember the principles of budgeting. It was with the tips from Credit for Life to pace my spending and prioritize what I need that I was able to center myself and take control of the reins on my finances.
In speaking with several seniors from Sturgis when I recently attended their fair in my current role as a Marketing Intern at Cape Cod 5, I was glad to see that my ability to take something out of the Credit for Life experience was not unique. When I asked them what advice most rang true, a few simple yet effective ideas came up again and again:
- Take the time to learn about all your options and seek advice: Ask adults how they built their credit score and established responsible spending and saving habits. What mistakes did they make that I can learn from?
- Ensure that you are growing your savings through automated transfers: We all want to have more money saved and yet we find it hard to do so. Choose an amount you know you won’t miss, set up an automatic transfer from checking to savings and forget about it.
- Be very cautious with “lifestyle spending”: While building credit is important, it is even more important to remain cautious of accumulating “bad debt.” Establishing responsible spending and saving habits comes ahead of getting a credit card with the intent of building your credit score.
Jocelyn, a senior at Sturgis West, elaborated on what she was able to take away from Credit for Life, “As we're becoming adults, we need to know how to budget our money and maintain a good credit score - things I have not learned much about, so the information was very useful to me.”
Cape Cod 5’s commitment to meeting their customers where they are on their financial journey is what really drives this fair home for most students, including myself. The non-prescriptive approach to providing simple habits and budgeting guidance makes the Credit for Life Fair all the more engaging and important.
In short, the seniors of Sturgis Charter Public School urge you all to be conscious of your saving and spending decisions and think it through; I couldn’t have said it better myself! I hope all students and young adults can heed this financial guidance, because who better to look to for inspiration than a group of bright-eyed 18-year-olds embarking on a new chapter of their life?