n his lecture Friday to students on how to effectively manage finances and minimize debt, CSU alumnus and former corporate finance adviser Kyle Shelley said students need to learn financial responsibility in a time when schools and parents are failing to provide these skills.
Throughout the lecture, which focused on the importance of setting a personal spending plan, understanding credit scores, the pros and cons of credit cards and paying for college, Shelley stressed that decisions students make in college heavily impact whether they will be financially successful in the future.
“No one told me this stuff,” Shelley said, noting that though he earned a business degree, his classes did not prepare him for the reality of finance. “Sometimes the truth isn’t beautiful, but we need to know the rules of the (finance) game.”
Shelley believes the most important component of economic success is a good credit score. “Establish your credit today,” he said, encouraging students who do not already have a credit card to get one because length of credit history plays a large role in credit scores.
Shelley said sometimes people with the same salary have different lifestyles based on their credit scores. He explained that a good credit score enables people to pay less for products when those with poor credit are forced to pay more.
Though he endorsed the use of credit cards, Shelley also warned against their dangers. Failure to keep up with growing credit card payments each month often results in an individual paying two to three times the amount of initial price paid.
Students agreed that Shelley’s information was practical and found some of it was different than their preconceived notions.
Senior computer science major James Gwaltney said he attended the lecture to test whether his existing financial theories were accurate.
Gwaltney said he was shocked to discover “how wrong (he) was” about his theories, adding his new knowledge “. was something (he) could definitely apply right now.”
Senior psychology major Kristen Parcesepe said her parents never educated her.
“I feel like I’ll be able to manage my finances better,” she said after the presentation.
Shelley said a spending plan, what he refers to as “a blueprint to success,” also helps students manage their money well.
“(Spending plans) are really important to see how we can go and get the things we want,” Shelley said, explaining that unlike a budget, which restricts what you can buy during each spending period, a spending plan promotes constant awareness of what a person spends money on.
The trick is for a person to buy what they want — name-brand items and unnecessary purchases — but find ways to buy them for less, Shelley explained. Among his suggestions were shopping at the dollar store, registering a Starbucks card online to get free coffee and using the contract-free Virgin Mobile phone service.
Shelley talked to students about different ways to pay for college during his presentation.
“Exhaust all of your scholarship options,” Shelley said, suggesting students go to http://fastweb.com to apply for free scholarships.
Shelley also said that some companies, such as UPS, Qwest, Marriot and FedEx, offer their student employees tuition reimbursements.
Shelley said “the difference of (saving) a few hundred dollars a month and not graduating with a ton of debt” can set students up for a more successful financial lifestyle after college.
Staff writer Natasha Pepperl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.