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Mulerider Expert: Financial Planning in College

Hey Muleriders!

Living on a college student budget isn’t that easy, especially when you’re far away from any family, and you don’t have a job to supply yourself with a steady income. I’ve lived that lifestyle a few times over my three years here at SAU, but that doesn’t mean you have to! I spoke with Brian Logan, Assistant Professor of Economics here at SAU, about ways you can prepare yourself financially while here at SAU, as well as for the future!

“Can you give us some background on yourself, like your qualifications and whatnot?”

“I’m Brian Logan, Assistant Professor of Economics. I am in my 13th year at SAU. I teach and research primarily in the field of economics but do teach Personal Finance occasionally as well. For fun, I like to play tennis, fish, ski, and play guitar. I am married to Dr. Jennifer Logan, Professor of Economics, also here at SAU.”

“What are some tips you can give to college students for managing money, working on a budget, and preparing for the future?”

“1. Research- many great websites exist to research personal finances. A great starter is nerdwallet.com. I also find many good class examples on the CNN Business website, but there are many options out there. You may find out that you have more options when making a financial decision than you think once you do the research.

2. Take FIN 2003, Personal Finance. It is a general education elective that can count for all majors at SAU. You will learn about budgeting, credit cards, ID theft, insurance, loans, and many more financial topics.

3. Use an outside resource to keep you honest. Although it may be awkward at times, going over your finances/budget with parents, spouse, pastor, trusted friend/mentor can be a good way to get an outside perspective and keep you honest.

4. Much of personal finance comes down to discipline. We are biologically wired to want stuff now. Still, successful financial planners understand and respond to the benefits of saving for the future and foregoing short term gains today for greater rewards in the long term.

5. Be very careful with borrowing money. Whether it is a student loan, car loan, or credit card, many lenders will loan you more money than you can realistically afford. It is up to you to keep limits on your borrowing, or you’ll pay for it later, both figuratively and literally.”

“What’s something you wish you knew more about when it comes to financial planning and budgeting while you were in college?”

“I wish I had been smarter with credit cards, as I had made some dumb choices, and had started saving more aggressively and much earlier.”

“A lot of us in school are in debt in some form or fashion, whether it be for college loans, car payments, etc. What are some necessary steps to work on repaying those debts, while also being able to spend on yourself?”

“A couple of thoughts: First, an important step to budgeting is to realize you will spend some fun money on yourself. If you build that into your budget and be realistic, you have a chance of holding yourself to it. Anyone can write out a budget, but following the budget day in and day out, regardless of what life throws at you, is the tough part. However, if your budget for “fun money” is zero, there’s very little chance you’ll hold to that in the long term, and you may end up spending more than if you had planned a small amount of “fun money” and held yourself to it. Second, rack up as little college debt as possible. A college education is a great investment, but new clothes every semester are not. Only borrow money for things like tuition, books, and absolute essentials.”

“Is there anything else you can add that you think may be helpful for college students like me?”

“Establish personal and financial goals. A financial plan is unique to the individual and their own goals. Having set goals will help you make tough decisions about managing your money in the best way to meet your most important goals.

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