There are three things that are never supposed to be talked about at the dinner table: politics, religion and money. In the case of the latter, money, University Libraries is starting the conversation during Money Smart Week in order to help Nevada students become properly educated and comfortable with managing their personal finances. University Libraries in partnership with Greater Nevada Credit Union and the University's Nevada Money Mentors will offer a variety of free lunchtime seminars at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center for interested students during the week of April 23.
Money Smart Week topics include: Personal Investing: Using Library Resources for Wealth Building; Adulting 101: Budgets & Savings & Taxes, Oh My!; Salary Negotiations; and a GeoCache for College Cash competition with a $500 grand prize up for grabs. All of the event details can be found on the University's Events Calendar.
"Most college students, especially after graduation, struggle with the transition from the university environment to the workforce," University Libraries' Business and Economics Librarian and Money Smart Week organizer Mitch Winterman said. "Students often struggle with learning to manage day-to-day life, and they also struggle with learning how to manage their money."
Financial literacy is incredibly important for college students
"Money Smart Week is a great way for University Libraries to engage with students who may not be familiar with the resources available to them," Winterman said. "Librarians do a lot of student outreach, but so much of what we have to offer is underutilized. I look forward to changing student perceptions of the library through Money Smart Week events. I hope to open eyes and minds by sharing library capabilities, resources, spaces and expertise with Nevada students."
University Libraries offers a variety of resources to help students and members of the Nevada community become financially literate. From databases and tools, to the expertise of our team of librarians, students are encouraged to take advantage of what's available in order make informed financial decisions.
"Often times when college students make poor financial choices, these problems can follow them throughout their lives," Winterman said. "I wanted to organize an event like Money Smart Week to help educate students and provide them with the information they need to prevent these problems from happening."
Created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Money Smart Week brings together financial institutions, non-profits, libraries, universities and government agencies to offer thousands of free financial education classes across the country. Classes cover topics ranging from budgeting to homebuying to estate planning and more.
Financial literacy is about making good decisions
Money Smart Week sessions were designed to demonstrate that choices do exist when making financial decisions.
"The most important thing to remember is to pay yourself first, by saving a little off of the top of each paycheck," Money Smart Week partner and Nevada Money Mentors financial advisor Amy Nelson said. "Starting this early is the key to building a solid financial future."
Nelson added, "Because it's taboo to talk about money and money management topics, we want to encourage students to attend Money Smart Week events, share their stories and ask financial experts the questions they have about managing, saving and investing their money."
Becoming aware of personal spending habits can be a real eye-opener. Temptations to spend are everywhere. From one-click Amazon to using Alexa to buy supplies, to eating out and coffee on-the-go students are being coaxed into spending money all the time in different ways across different channels. Understanding personal spending habits is one of the biggest factors needed to evaluate and determine just how much money can be saved.
Michelle Hale, community relations specialist with Greater Nevada Credit Union and Money Smart Week partner is also looking forward to sharing financial information with Nevada students.
Hale said that like college, managing your money, is a huge freedom that many students didn't realize they'd have. Because most students lack the necessary knowledge to properly and effectively manage their money, problems during and after college can arise.
"Many college students are on their own for the first time and will need to plan their spending, use credit and debit cards for the first time, even make monthly recurring payments like rent," Hale said. "Without an understanding of the concepts and tools needed to successfully manage their finances, many students and graduates struggle."
Proper money management is a life skill
Winterman, Hale and Nelson all agree that proper money management is a life skill that should be learned as early as possible. They argue that it is extremely important to know where the money is going, understand how much time it takes to earn money that's being spent, understand the basics of setting a budget and establishing and maintaining a savings account.
"Saving money is like training for a race," Nelson said. "It's like working out. Most people don't love working out, but they find a way to get their workout in. The same goes for saving money. You have to have a plan, understand what you need to do to be prepared, and have the discipline and desire to practice, practice, practice and make lifestyle changes to get to the finish line and establish a strong personal finance mindset."
Hale, from Greater Nevada Credit Union, shared an example to help students understand the importance of being disciplined and organized around their money in order to spend less and save more.
Easy ways to save
"The most basic example is something as simple as buying a fancy cup of coffee five days a week. If a student is spending $5 each day on coffee, that's $25 a week or $1,300 per year. That's a ton of money spent on coffee, Hale said.
"The first step to spending less and saving more is to start tracking where the money is going. Once a student realizes where their money is going and understands how many hours they had to work to earn the money they are spending they will be better equipped to invest, save and manage a budget.
"Students can skip their daily $5 coffee for a week or a month and put the cash they are saving in a jar. This allows them to see how much they are spending and turn it into a small savings instead. Over time this small savings can turn into something impactful. This cash savings could be used as a down payment for a car or a large purchase.
"With this exercise students can still get their caffeine intake, but they don't have to spend quite as much money to do it. They can order the house coffee instead of a fancy coffee or they can choose to make their coffee at home instead."
The goal for Money Smart Week is to provide students with the knowledge, skills and resources to make more confident financial decisions while they are in college and to have the good decisions carry over after graduation and beyond.
For additional Money Smart Week tips and information please visit the Money Smart Week website.