In an economy riddled by inflation, due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, citizens of all ages and classes are struggling to stay financially stable. The United States hit an inflation rate of 9.1 percent in June of 2022, which was an over 40-year high. The Bank of England predicts that inflation will top out at 13.1 percent in October. Canada’s current inflation rates are 7.1 percent as of July 2022.
For most post-secondary education students, money and finances are becoming something more in the forefront of their brains than ever before. “Adulting” becomes a real thing in the years during and, most importantly, right after post-secondary education years when student loans, rent, and other financial responsibilities begin to come into play.
How can universities help to educate students on financial literacy and create good money habits? Jaimie Surles, a Financial Counselor for Workplace Options, said that education in finances should begin before the post-secondary education level, starting at high school or even earlier.
“In earlier grades, start out with teaching about having your own checking accounts and getting into the habit of saving for things you want, so that you kind of know how to put aside a certain amount for things,” Surles said.
Surles continued by saying that at the higher education level, if universities included a money management course alongside their other required general education classes for freshmen, that would create more financial awareness for students and save them from financial hardships as they get older.
Surles also suggested that higher education institutions should aim to have their financial aid offices not only help with paying tuition and taking out student loans, but also provide advice on saving, budgeting, and other topics to make students more well-rounded and aware of their financial responsibilities throughout their post-secondary years and after.
According to Surles, the most important skill to practice when it comes to money management is budgeting and setting goals. The earlier that people learn to budget, the better.
“If people have that [budgeting] in mind at an early age, to save a percentage of whatever they earn, that will help put them on track for their future,” Surles said.
Something that most students don’t budget and plan for are the smaller expenses of living, for things as small as toilet paper, soap, and groceries that add up over a long period of time, according to Surles. Most of the time, students are so focused on the larger expenses like rent and car payments that they forget to budget in money for the smaller necessities.
“Coming from your parents’ house to being on your own, you’re so used to things like that being provided for you that you forget to include them in your financial planning,” Surles said. “You really need to get into the details and remember items like that.”
In the age of the internet, there are a lot of online resources that are available to students to help with budgeting, saving, and financial literacy. Surles suggests that students use websites like Investopedia, PowerPay, Yahoo Finance, and NerdWallet to help them get their footing in their financial journey and learn more about being a financially stable adult. Additionally, Workplace Options financial counselors are available to provide financial information and resources when it comes to planning and budgeting.
Getting into good money habits at a young age is important, and the best way to learn is from resources offered by a university.