As it stands now, 17 states, including Nebraska, require a course in all high schools that gives basic money management education. However, even with this state-wide effort to educate kids on budgeting and taxes, 70% of college students on the national scale still view money as a major stressor in their lives.
This being said, most people are aware of the small things they can do to diminish money leaving the wallet. Not spending money on food and thrift store shopping are evergreen options, but couponing can only go so far, especially when a person hasn’t had any real education on financial literacy. Understanding the ins and outs of money management, like bank accounts, credit cards and savings strategies, can be the first real step to a solid grasp on one’s finances.
According to Nicole Sweigard, vice president of business development at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s UBT branch, the main reason so many college students struggle with money is that oftentimes college is their first introduction to financial responsibility.
“For a lot of students, this is their first exposure to finances,” Sweigard said. “It might be their first bank account, their first go at budgeting, it’s the first of a lot of things.”
Sweigard said that having a tenacious grip on your bank account is a good start to becoming more apt to proper money management.
“Be in tune with your bank account,” Sweigard said. “Check it on a regular basis and have a friendly banker that can help you if you have questions.”
In conjunction with getting to know one’s banking app, the university also offers a plethora of opportunities to gain more substantial insight to financial literacy. Programs like Student Money Management and UBT Lunch and Learn events are available for all students and are, according to Sweigard, 100% free.
Another major reason for college students’ financial stress is the infamous cost of student loans. According to the program coordinator of Student Money Management at UNL, Megan Patel, while loans may be essential to affording college, one can still be financially savvy by being conservative with how much one takes out in loans, if possible.
“Students should only take out loans to cover educational expenses and living expenses,” Patel said. “Students should not take out more loans than they need.”
If students find themselves interested in the upper level finances like possible retirement funds and investing opportunities, both Sweigard and Patel agreed that students should start looking into these options as early as possible. According to Sweigard, talking to benefits directors at one’s job, downloading an investment app or making an appointment with a financial coach can be great introductions into advanced banking. Both Patel and Sweigard concur that the best way to avoid money stress is to stay on top of one’s finances and have a solid understanding of money management.
“Take advantage of campus opportunities and become familiar with the banking process,” Sweigard said. “It’s important and ok to ask questions about aspects of money management that students may or may not know about.”