• July 20, 2019

Financial reality fair gives students glimpse of real life - Odessa American: ECISD

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Financial reality fair gives students glimpse of real life

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Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 5:30 pm

Odessa High School senior Oscar Melendez had his eyes opened to how expensive life is after high school through the Financial Reality Fair.

Melendez, 18, was one of about 842 OHS seniors participating in the two-day event on campus, organized by the West Texas Credit Union.

One thing that surprised Melendez most was that vehicles are a lot more expensive than he thought.

 “It opened my mind to just start working hard and make up my goals a little bit better,” Melendez said.

Nicole Dominguez, CEO of West Texas Credit Union, said this is their second year of going into the schools. ECISD is partnered with the West Texas Credit Union to teach the students what it is to have a budget and educate them on the expenses of everyday life, Dominguez said.

“This also talks to them about college and what careers they can pick from. It gives them the actual national average of what that career makes fresh out of college. The week prior to coming to do the reality fair, the teachers meet with their students and they figure out what they want to be when they grow up. They get to select that career” and get a budget sheet that shows what they make with all the deductions, Dominguez added.

 During the fair, students visited 12 different stations where they “bought” a house and car and figured out if they wanted cable. If they wanted a TV or PlayStation, they had to purchase it.

“They pick a food budget; a clothing budget. They pick just everything you would have to spend money on in life,” Dominguez said.

Their last stop is meeting with a credit counselor, which might be an ECISD official, credit union employee or community volunteer.

“… We all partner up and we meet with the students and we go over it one-on-one with them,” Dominguez said.

If the student was under budget, they could put money into savings, or buy a little better car, but if they were over budget, they had to cut back, she said.

“They’re getting some aha! moments, which is fantastic because we want them to be realistic with what’s to come,” Dominguez added.

Alonzo Portillo, an 18-year-old senior, said the event was interesting.

“It helps (us) see the reality of things because we’re used to our parents and it shows how we need to grow up,” Portillo said.

He added that he didn’t realize how much insurance costs and how much he needs to save.

Portillo said he plans to go into the military and hopefully become a police officer.

Randy Lightfoot, a campus curriculum facilitator at Bonham Middle School, said those attending were kind of surprised at what things cost in Odessa. He added that a fair like this would be good for anyone.

“I know we’ve done quite a few in the past. I think we need to do more because it’s an eye- opener,” Lightfoot said.

Odessa, TX

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