Students gathered in Weber State University’s Center for Diversity and Unity to hear about fiscal responsibility on Tuesday. Speakers from the Student Wellness Center and Weber State Credit Union explained to students the basics of debt and how to save money during college.
Kaitlyn Ott, student director of peer education for the Student Wellness Center, outlined several ways to be fiscally responsible as a student. Steps included avoiding unnecessary debt; eating in; utilizing financial aid and public transportation; buying used, generic and cheap products; and budgeting.
“Financial wellness is an important part of our overall health,” Ott said. “If our financial situation is going all right, then . . . we can have balance in our lives and accomplish our life goals.”
Richard Campos, chair of college programs for the Center for Diversity and Unity, said he believes students need to think more about their finances. “Not a lot of students know this, because when it comes to financial things, it’s something that they either learn from their parents or their parents just do for them.”
Campos said he’s specifically seen students in the dorms being financially irresponsible. “When you’re a college student, it’s an important time in your life when you have to know this information already, or you have to learn it as soon as possible, because this is where you learn everything for the future.”
Ott had students participate in roleplay activities to illustrate the little ways individuals can save money.
“Certain kinds of debt are necessary,” she said. “They help us build good credit.”
Spencer Kitchen, director of member experience at the Weber State Credit Union, spoke about how to use debt to an one’s own advantage. He outlined a plan to help individuals utilize the resources they have around them. Steps included having a plan, saving and investing money, building credit and controlling debt, and protecting the wealth one already has.
“It’s not just about being able to make a purchase,” Kitchen said. “It can affect everything from how much money you make, your employment, where your housing is — we want you to be able to establish a healthy (credit) score.”
Kitchen explained the Federal Credit Reporting Act was established so that anyone who wanted a copy of their credit history would be able to do so, free of charge, once a year. He suggested students go to Annualcreditreport.com to get started on viewing their scores, and potentially being able to fix any mistakes that might be on the report.
Kitchen went on to talk about the importance of budgeting for all individuals. “It gives you some focus, gives you some direction. If you’ve ever tried to walk across a room with your eyes closed . . . you’ve probably run into some things,” he said, before comparing spending without a budget to this idea. “. . . With a plan and effort, you can built credit (and) you can control debt.”
In addition to budgeting, he recommended keeping credit card balances low, paying bills on time, paying credit cards off completely every month, and staying away from debt consolidators, who he claimed are “almost always scams.”
Campos emphasized the importance of students being able to understand the ideas presented at the event. “(Students) need to know more about finances . . . it’s important for them to be financially aware.”