Series helps students manage cash
Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 13:01
More than 20 percent of college students have credit card debt exceeding $3,000,
according to Nationwide Insurance. While many students use credit for education purposes, 84 percent admit to using it for other purposes, including entertainment, eating out and buying gadgets.
Through a series of workshops hosted by the The Family Life Center, students can learn to get out of debt and build a cash flow.
“Many people learn the basic ways of distributing their money by checkbooks, but many people miss out on the more in depth key ways to managing their money, and unfortunately, it is learned by making mistakes,” said David Ingersoll, a certified housing counselor and USU alumnus. He is working on his master’s degree in consumer science.
On Jan. 2, Ingersoll taught a class called The Nuts & Bolts of Financial Management: Building Your Financial Toolbox. The class was two hours long and covered basic budgeting, saving, debt management and cutting expenses.
“The main thing I want people to know about money management is that it is not intuitive,” Ingersoll said. “It has to be learned, practiced, and it requires some effort,”
To college students, whether single or married, budgeting is the key to relieving excess stress, according to Ingersoll. He said knowing what can wait and what are urgent needs is a skill one needs to develop sooner rather than later.
“Writing down where you spent what amount of money sounds like common sense, but you would be shocked to know the percentage of people actually do this,” he said. “There are many different types of ways to keep track of your purchases. Keeping the log is the first step to cutting down unnecessary expenses.”
USU provides an online program, powerpay.org, that helps people manage their money and answer any other questions about their financial status. There are printable forms on this website that can help keep track of money and purchases.
“This website really can help debtors become savers,” Ingersoll said.
Ingersoll said tracking expenses is a great first step in figuring out your new niche on managing your money.
“It first will tell you where your money is going, and second it also will help identify patterns in your spending behavior,” he said. “People are creatures of habit, so if someone overspends at WalMart, they will continue to walk in the same route every other time they go shopping there. This is not a smart way of shopping. Having a list and certain amount of money could be a good start.”
During the workshop, the participants pitch their opinions. Personal stories, experiences, or current state of financial management are discussed personally with a counselor at a different time. After the workshop, participants are able to set up an appointment to discuss the ways they are willing to change their habits to provide a less stressful lifestyle for themselves and possibly their family.
“I don’t think money is everything, but it sure makes things easier,” Ingersoll said.
A key exercise Ingersoll introduced the class to is something called the “step-down” process. For example, instead of buying a gym membership at a local club, go to the Fieldhouse or an apartment gym for free. This process applies to nearly everything students do.
Ingersoll said the majority of his clients are in financial trouble from spending a quick twenty dollars here and there rather than making huge purchases. The little items add up quickly over time and they are forgotten. He said this is why writing down each of the purchases is important in changing your financial spending habits.
Another big hassle young adults run into financially are those random glitches thrown onto their plate throughout the year. Ingersoll said a broken-down automobile, hospitalization or housing problems lead to individuals putting it onto their credit cards, taking out loans and just getting themselves deeper.
“Putting aside money for these miscellaneous things at a younger age is brilliant,” he said. “It is never too early or late to start.”
Future workshops will be held at the the Family Life Center at 493 N. 700 East on the first Wednesday of every month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on the third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Each session is $15.