We asked some seniors about their experiences with financial education, and we’re excited to share their words in our new series, Savvy Devils.
Introducing our first Savvy Devil –
Madison Jaronski, Class of 2018!
Q: How do you define financial literacy, and what topics interest you most?
A: Financial literacy is the knowledge and understanding of how money works. Further, financial literacy is having the skills to manage one’s financial resources effectively to achieve a lifetime of financial security.
As a soon-to-be college graduate, a topic that has been at the forefront of my mind is repaying student loans. For example, when did “oh I only have 20k instead of 37k (the national average in 2016) of student debt” become a good thing? Because typically that is still $200 dollars each month for ten years.
Another topic that interests me is budgeting, especially for flexibility and freedom. I always strive to maintain a substantial savings account because you never know what may loom around the corner… or when you may come across a certain something that you must have.
Q: What is your personal money philosophy?
A: Treat your credit card like it’s your debit card.
Q: Do you keep a budget? Why or why not?
A: Until recently I have never kept a formalized budget but I have always been mindful of my spending. For example, at the beginning of each semester I would figure out my semester income (Residential Life stipend) and then my semester expenses (Sorority dues). Additionally, about once a week I will check my bank accounts and credit card balances to remain mindful of how much spending money I have. But in preparation for life beyond the limestone, I have worked with my parents and grandparents to develop an extensive monthly budget, which aligns with my payday and time-sensitive expenses such as rent and student loans.
Q: Did you have exposure to financial literacy when you were growing up?
A: I was very fortunate growing up to be surrounded by parents and grandparents who placed great emphasis on teaching me and my siblings financial literacy. Ever since I can remember, every birthday check or special occasion check I received (up until I was 16) would go straight into a savings account that my parents started for me when I was born. Additionally, all of the cash that my siblings and I accumulated throughout the year would go right to “Bank of Mom”. She would keep our cash in secret individual containers and come summer vacation, we would be able to see how much we had to spend. While I did not always enjoy making “voluntary” deposits to the “Bank of Mom”, it taught an invaluable lesson that money does not need to be spent the minute you receive it.
Q: Have any events at Dickinson inspired you to change your financial habits?
A: While I have attended a few financial literacy events on campus and have taken bits and pieces away from each, I have benefited the most from the relationship that I have with my financial advisor, Rebecca Schreiber-Reis. Being able to talk with Rebecca at the onset of each year about my tuition and loan status made the process more tangible, more real. I think sometimes, as students, we forget about the thousands and thousands of dollars that are required to maintain our “Dickinson” lifestyles. I have heard so many of my senior friends, who live off campus, talk about how much groceries cost or how they didn’t think to plan for all the other small expenses that come with living off campus. So remember, those lines on our tuition statements (“Stafford Loan” or “Federal Loan”) do not represent monopoly money, it is actual money and will become oh so very real, very fast, so be prepared.
Q: What financial literacy-related advice would you give first year students?
A: Start building your G-Man and Alibi’s budget now… Just kidding! But think about what matters to you. What do you want to get out of your college experience? Is it saving money for abroad? Is it building a savings account so you can buy your own car after graduation and not have to use your parents’ ’98 Toyota Camry? Give it some thought and do not hesitate to seek advice. No one expects you to know everything about money but everyone is expected to try.