We get it: the financial struggle is REAL at times! Taking out student loans, paying bills, managing expenses and saving money all require strategic planning and decision making. Developing financialsavviness takes knowledge, and often time, but starting now, as a student, can have a life-long impact!
With that in mind, we interviewed Hannah Sadollah, the Programs Specialist for FinancialSmarts @ UMBC (which she’ll talk about in her interview) to shed some light on this important topic.
Extra Credit: Why do you think it is important for college students to build up their "financial savviness” right now?
Hannah: Education is an investment in yourself! College is an experience and an investment, so make sure you get a high return on investment (ROI) or benefit relative to the cost. Your college experience can still be amazing while you become more financially savvy! There are ways to make lasting memories while still saving money for the future and saving money now can have a serious impact on your future!
College can be stressful, between balancing classwork, extracurricular activities and having a social life it’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out when throwing personal finances into the mix. Becoming financially savvy can help reduce this stress! For example, hanging out with friends doesn’t always have to break the bank! The UMBC Student Events Board (seb) hosts multiple events every week like; Karaoke Nights, Yoga sessions, or Glow Dodgeball! Another example is FinancialSmarts @ UMBC which hosts events during Money Smart Week (April 6th-11th) where students will be entered to win $25 Campus Cash just by attending the event! These are great ways to hang out with friends, meet new people, and save or even win money! Try following groups like FinancialSmarts on social media to learn more about all their free events.
Extra Credit: What is one financial topic you recommend college students learn more about?
Hannah: Managing money, specifically savings. As a current student unexpected costs come up all the time! Whether it’s an extra book that you need for class or replacing a missing campus ID, it’s important to be able to prepare yourself for unexpected or emergency expenses.
In January 2019 Forbes reported that 78% of U.S. workers are living paycheck to paycheck. This means that these individuals are using most or all of their monthly income on their monthly expenses with no money left over or in savings. Don’t be part of the statistic! Consider the 50/30/20 model when creating a budget. Plan to spend 50% of your monthly income on fixed costs like; rent, groceries or transportation. 30% of flex costs like; Eating out or going to concerts. And then allocate 20% of your monthly income to savings. This model makes saving and money management seem like an attainable goal and helps you create a plan to achieve it!
Extra Credit: What is UMBC FinancialSmarts and what has been the biggest way you've seen undergraduate students utilize it?
Hannah: FinancialSmarts @ UMBC provides students with the tools necessary to make informed and effective decisions about your finances. Managing money is an important part of your daily life and we encourage students to be well versed in this important life skill that many find challenging. We have arange of programs available to all students! The biggest way UMBC students engage with our content is by enrolling in the FinancialSmarts CashCourse! This is a free, self-paced, open enrollment blackboard course that allows students to learn about concepts like budgeting, saving, banking, as well as talking to them about the working world! Student can find more information about how to enroll in the course on our website at https://financialsmarts.umbc.edu/programs/cashcourse/
In addition to the CashCourse we encourage students to attend one of our many events during Money Smart Week, April 6th-11th. All of our events are fun and engaging and by attending certain events student will be entered into a drawing to win $25 Campus Cash! To learn more about these events and Money Smarts Week please visit the FinancialSmarts myUMBC page!https://my3.my.umbc.edu/groups/financialsmarts/events
Extra Credit: What would you say to a student who is struggling with budgeting their money?
Hannah: Don’t give up, nobody’s perfect and we all struggle sometimes! If you’re struggling to stick to your budget, try revisiting it and see what areas you might need to tweak to make it more realistic. If you primarily pay with cards or digital payment methods try taking out cash (while being mindful of non-network ATM fees). This is a helpful way to stop spending once you’re out of money. There are also budgeting applications that help users track their spending like the Mint App!
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, we encourage students to sign up for our CashCoach program which will begin its next cohort in Fall 2020! Visit our website to sign up today!https://financialsmarts.umbc.edu/programs/mybudgetcoach/
Extra Credit: What is your best piece of financial advice?
Hannah: Keep learning and asking questions! No one person has all the answers so there’s always more to explore and learn about Financial Literacy. You will go through various seasons of your life where you will need a different set of financial skills so it’s important to seek out trustworthy guidance and leverage the resources that are available to you now for free as a student!