The final Chapter After event for the semester was held Tuesday, Dec. 10. Hosted by the Leadership Institute, the last installment of the lecture series focused on money management and financial literacy.
Representatives from Bank of America, Zakiyyah Singley, Perle Desir and Michelle Lawrence, spoke to students on how to properly manage funds and why creating a budget and establishing credit are so crucial to college students.
First things first, when making financial goals or when making long-term plans, a good tip is to make sure it's a SMART goal:
Worksheets were distributed to students featuring a budgeting sheet, and a place to write down goals for next year. Students were encouraged to track their goals and their budgeting style to better apply the money management strategies to their everyday life.
Once a goal is established, it is time to start analyzing funds and begin the budgeting process. This includes tracking salary, fixed payments like bills or insurance, groceries, utilities, and other expenses. Fixed expenses and variable expenses are two types of spending that should be identified when beginning to budget.
"Variable incomes," Desir explained, "are wants, not needs."
Variable incomes include payments or subscriptions like Amazon Prime, UberEats, Spotify or Apple Music, gym memberships, and Netflix.
"If you don't sit down and look at your budget, you have no idea what you're doing with your money. It just goes," said Desir.
One thing that people never remember to do is to pay themselves once they get their paycheck, Singley says. It is important to establish a percentage of your paycheck that goes directly into a savings account so that money is not quickly spent.
"Out of your biweekly paycheck, if you were to pay yourself $50 each paycheck, you'd have $1200 by the end of the year," Singley said. "Do you see the simplicity of it?"
Singely went on to explain the basics of credit and what a credit score means. While some like to stay away from credit cards, Singley says establishing a good credit score is essential.
"If you have not established a certain line of credit by the time you are 21 years old, you are looked at the same way as a person that walked away from a credit card bill of over three grand and never paid it," Singely said.
In addition, students should keep in mind that some employers and companies will only consider hiring people with a certain established credit score. Any credit score over 700 is acknowledged as a good score.
They also add that, it is not about the amount of money spent on a credit card, but the efficiency in how quick the credit is paid back.
"Credit works both ways," Lawrence said.
"When you use the credit, it has to be paid back. If you don't pay it back, or pay it on time (there's a monthly payment due), it impacts your credit score. That's when your credit score can decrease," said Singely.
Students were encouraged to reach out to any of the financial specialists for extra information or questions about money management. Pamphlets were also offered for students to better their financial literacy.
The Leadership Institute concluded their series of Chapter After events for the semester. For more information on this event and others like it, they are located i5 the Miron Student Center, Room 215. They can also be contacted at (908) 737-5170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.