After choosing to attend college, get a room-mate and take public transportation, Ruth Cadet, 17, made the right financial decisions and found herself with a surplus of income.
“I just thought those were the right decisions,” said Cadet. .“You can take metro transportation and save up for a nice car.”
Although these “decisions” were made during exercises at the City National Bank financial boot camp for high school students, Cadet said she learned to budget her money.
“College students tend to spend money that they don’t have,” Cadet said. “I didn’t want to make those decisions.”
Cadet, a senior at Miami Edison Senior High school, attended the boot camp along with over 150 other high school students on Dec. 21. The event took place at the Dezer Collection, a museum in North Miami.
City National Bank and the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce teamed up to teach the students financial principles so they can make sound decisions after graduation. They worked with Communities in Schools to find students. Students will remain involved through the end of the school year.
Isabel Fernandez, marketing manager at City National Bank, said that the program began last year with 75 students participating. This year the number doubled and the program expanded from two schools to three — North Miami, Edison and Miami Beach.
“They didn’t think they had a lot of control over their expenses and income,” said Fernandez, “And I think what they take with them is that they hold all of their choices for making the right decisions.”
The students pretended to be at the point of graduation and chose to either go to college or work after high school. Fernandez said the decisions were all for the students to make.
“We hoped that they had extra money from their budget to put toward their savings and retirement,” said Fernandez, “But in many cases they didn’t make the best choices and they had a deficit.”
Depending on their decisions, the students were assigned a hypothetical income. They then went over to different tables that sponsors of the event, like Warren Henry, Metro PCS and FIU, set up, and students were told what the cost of getting that service would be. The students had to decide what services they could afford to buy.
By the end of the day, some students had a surplus of money and some were in debt. Cadet was among the few who had a savings left to put away.
Fernandez said the students learned that the financial decisions they makes today will affect their lives tomorrow.
“What they left with is the notion that they hold all the control over those financial choices,” said Fernandez.
Freelance photographer Daniel Bock contributed to this report.