I could have a bowl of cereal before class, but instead, I often find myself stopping at Eppy’s food truck for a breakfast sandwich on my way to Alter Hall. While I’m only spending a few dollars each time, it adds up. And I know that spending money when I don’t necessarily have to is something I have in common with many other college students.
According to USA Today, 54 percent of millennials eat out at least three times a week, 51 percent go to a bar at least once a week and 29 percent buy coffee at least three times a week.
I’m not criticizing my classmates for buying Starbucks before their 8 a.m. classes or having drinks with their friends on the weekend. I just think we all need to be more financially aware so that when we graduate and have more concerning expenses, we know how to balance our checkbooks and our lives.
Ted Fry, the university’s accounts payable services coordinator, said students should take a finance class before they graduate and have more financial responsibilities.
“I don’t believe that in the 21st century you can call yourself educated without having a basic grasp of finance,” Fry said.
As an economics major, I am learning to understand the flux of money and about the concept of opportunity cost — which argues a benefit must be given up in order to obtain something else. This taught me if we started saving our money now, we might give up on some fun events or things we enjoy, but we will be more financially secure in the near future.
But not every major requires students to understand the economy. Other students might miss out on an important lesson if they don’t take it upon themselves to enroll in a finance or economics class.
Tilan Tang, a research assistant finance professor, said that due to a lack of high school finance classes in the United States, most students come to college with little financial knowledge. This makes it harder for them to manage their money. But they need to gain this understanding for the sake of their future.
“Even for those non-finance major students, it becomes more and more important for them to understand very basic finance knowledge, not only for their future career, but for their personal life,” Tang said. “Everyone wants financial freedom.”
It’s crucial for students to learn about savings to be prepared for basic living expenses, loans and whatever financial concerns they encounter. Fry said students should start saving now so that they “have a cushion against an unforeseen disaster, like when something breaks at home and you have to come up with $500 to replace something that’s essential.”
Fry said students should prioritize their spending by making sure they put money aside for food, rent, utilities and savings first, “rather than worrying about what you want, like the newest phone.”
Beginning to collect savings while in college becomes even more important when considering the reality that we might not all graduate with full-time jobs waiting for us.
“Most college students don’t have a concept of where they are going to be 20, 30 years from now,” Fry said.
We should trust that our Temple education will push us far. But we should also learn about commerce so that we can understand finance management and create healthy saving habits for the future.
If you haven’t already, consider enrolling in a basic finance class as you’re picking your schedule for next semester. Then put what you learn to good use by managing your spending and creating some savings. Your future self will be grateful.