Is An Emergency Fund Really Necessary?

Is an emergency fund really necessary for college students?  Of course it is!  Everyone, even college students, need an emergency fund as unexpected expenses can happen at any time.

  • Good Habits.  Making wise money management decisions at an early age provides a path to good financial decision-making in the future.  In addition, the habit of placing funds consistently into an emergency fund will spill into other parts of your financial life.  Individuals are more likely to achieve their future savings and investment goals if they start as young adults.
  • Less Headaches.  Prepared or not, unexpected expenses will occur at some point in your life.  Your car breaks down, an unexpected illness occurs, or the water pipe in your apartment bursts.  Being prepared for emergencies can save you a headache when life throws a curveball.
  • Investment in Yourself.  When you place money aside for an emergency fund, you are investing in yourself.  As your account grows, feelings of accomplishment and success will show as a result of your efforts.

Unexpected expenses occur, it is just a matter of time.  Being prepared with an emergency fund is a way to combat these situations.  For more information on emergency funds, schedule a coaching session or visit the Financial Literacy Center today!

Budget Adjustments

Monthly changes of your budgeted amounts are to be expected.  Changes in spending and income result from the realities of life – both expected and unexpected.  For this reason, continuous adjustments to your monthly budget are just a part of the process.

Income Increase.  Taking on a new or additional job, receiving a monetary gift, or gaining income through other sources are all ways to increase your income.  With this new income, you may want to pay down debt or add money to your emergency or savings accounts.

Income Decrease.  Losing a scholarship, being let go from a job, or having to spend money on unexpected car expenses will force you to tighten your spending.  As a result, you may need to identify non-essential spending areas to cut back. Figure out how much you will need to decrease your spending and decide which categories can be reduced.

Be flexible and reasonable each month when reassessing your budget or spending plan.  For more information on budget strategies, visit the Financial Literacy Center.


Cyber Security Tips When In-Store Shopping

Technology has provided additional convenience while shopping, but taking a few safety precautions with your devices while out and about will provide a more safe and secure shopping experience.

Stores and service providers are beginning to track your whereabouts when your devices are within a certain range.  To prevent these business from accessing your device, disable the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features when not in use.

Public Wi-Fi connections are targets for identity fraud.  Be wary of completing any transactions over these open connections.  This includes accessing any bank or credit information and logging into any email or financial accounts.

Basic and simple precautions can make your in-store shopping experience more safe and secure.  For more information on cyber security awareness, contact the UWW Financial Literacy Center.


Refunds: What To Do With The Extra Money?

A financial aid refund is excess money left over from your financial aid package after your tuition and allowable fees have been paid.  Although it can be tempting to use this extra money on non-essentials, such as gaming consoles, vacations, or designer clothing, financial aid is meant for education-related expenses. In many cases, the refund check is actually a student loan which will need to be repaid in the future with interest.

Here are the recommended priorities for refund usage:

  1. Pay Outstanding Account Balance. Even though you may receive a refund, your student account may still have charges that need to be paid (see Note below).
  2. Purchase Essential School Supplies.  Depending on your course load, various school supplies are needed for class success such as books, calculators, and other materials.
  3. Pay for Living Expenses and Transportation.  Consider needs versus wants.  Depending on your personal situation, rent, groceries, meal plans, utilities, and basic transportation costs may be necessary expenses.
  4. Place Funds into Savings for Future Education-Related Expenses.  Although it may be tempting to use refund money on non-essentials, such as vacations or designer clothing, financial aid is meant for education-related expenses.
  5. Give Money Back.  If you have over-borrowed, consider giving the money back to reduce your overall student debt.

For more information and resources on financial aid refunds or other financial needs, reach out to the appropriate campus departments.

Note:  Due to financial aid restrictions, your student account in WINS may continue to have non-tuition charges that will need to be paid using personal funds.  Students are encouraged to authorize the Federal Title IV Financial Aid (WINS/Student Center/View Student Permissions) to pay additional charges on their student account such as parking permits, bookstore charges, health center services, and library fines.  Pay plan activation fees and finance charges cannot be covered with Federal Title IV permissions, therefore these will need to be paid with personal funds.

Financial Literacy – What is it?

What is financial literacy?  Dave Ramsey, a money management expert, defines financial literacy as “the possession of skills that allow people to make smart decisions with their money”.

The effects of a student’s financial decisions can last a lifetime. As a result, many universities across the country are implementing financial literacy programs on their campuses to provide learning opportunities and resources for students.  UW-Whitewater is no exception, and as a result, the Financial Literacy Center (FLC) opened for students this past April.

The Financial Literacy Center is a financial outreach program, committed to the education of students and the campus community on effective personal money management.  The FLC provides individual financial coaching to any student on campus (free and confidential) and presentations for classes, dorm residents, and student organizations.  Additionally, online learning opportunities are available through our website, Facebook and this blog.

Students are encouraged to become financially literate by visiting the Financial Literacy Center today!