Become Money Smart!

Money Smart Week® is coming to Whitewater! The campus community, both in Whitewater and Janesville, are invited to attend several events during the 2019 Money Smart Week, April 1-5.

Money Smart:  Adulting 101.  Monday & Tuesday, April 1-2, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, UC Concourse Tables. Test your knowledge of personal finance topics! Stop by our table in the UC to see if you can correctly answer a money question, win a prize, and more importantly, learn about free financial resources available to you on campus.

Cooking on a Dime. Monday, April 1, 4:00 pm, UC275B. Are you looking for ways to save money when preparing meals and purchasing groceries? Amanda Kostman, the Family Living Educator from Extension Walworth County, will be on campus to present and demonstrate ways to ‘Cook on a Dime’. Food samples and door prizes will be available to those in attendance.

GeoCache for College Cash.  Tuesday, April 2, 4-6:00 pm, UC Concourse Tables. GeoCache for College Cash is a contest that operates similar to a scavenger hunt. Using a smart phone or tablet, players read and respond to quiz questions for a chance to win prizes. This fun campus event features personal finance info every student should know. Prizes include a chance to win a $500 national prize, along with local prizes including a Beats Pill, wireless earbuds, gift cards. and swag.

Understanding Credit & Credit Scores.  Wednesday, April 3, 12:00 pm, UWW at Rock County, HS120.  Understanding credit can be challenging.  Summit Credit Union will be presenting a seminar at the UWW at Rock County campus during Money Smart Week to help students understand credit and breakdown a credit score.

Financial Crimes: Awareness & Prevention.  Wednesday, April 3, 2:00 pm, UC264. A loss prevention specialist from UW Credit Union will share relevant information on current financial crimes and how to prevent them from happening to you.

Help, It’s Almost Tax Time!  Wednesday, April 3, 3:30 pm, Hyland 1302. Do I need to file taxes?  If I am a dependent for my parents, should I still file? What is an education credit? Where can I get help to file my taxes?  Get all your tax questions answered by the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) providers at UW-Whitewater. 

Homebuying 101. Thursday, April 4, 3:00 pm, UC262. Are you interested or considering the purchase of a home?  Attend our Homebuying 101 seminar to obtain information and resources from both a local real estate agent and a mortgage lending institution.  They will give guidance and clarity (no sales pitches!) to the many steps of the home purchasing process. 

Paint-A-BankThursday, April 4, 3-5:00 pm, Andersen Library. Get creative and come to Andersen Library to paint a money bank.  This is a make and take event, and banks will be available until supplies run out.

All events are free and open to all.  For more information about these and other nearby events, visit  Money Smart Week® events on campus are hosted by Andersen Library and the Financial Literacy Center.

4 Reasons You Should Check Your Credit Report

When is the last time you checked your credit report?  Sadly, far too few people are taking the time to request their reports.  At a minimum, you should be requesting your free credit report every 12 months.   Here are a few reasons why this is a good idea:

  • Free.  When using, you have access to your credit report for free, once each year, from each of the three credit bureaus – Transunion, Equifax, and Experian.
  • Identity Theft Indicator.  When looking over your credit report, if you find names you don’t recognize, social security numbers that do not belong, or accounts that are not yours, you might be a victim of identity fraud.
  • Monitor Credit.  Just like you monitor credit card bills and bank statements, it’s a good idea to keep track of credit accounts.
  • Correct Inaccurate Information.  If any information on your credit report is incorrect, both personal or account related, instructions are included on how to correct those inaccuracies.

For more information on the process to check your credit report or if you have questions or concerns related to credit, contact the Financial Literacy Center to schedule a coaching session.

Financial Literacy Services Expanding to UW-Rock County

Exciting news!  On Monday, December 3, the Financial Literacy Center will be hosting a financial seminar at the UW-Whitewater at Rock County campus.  Smart Strategies to Manage Money will focus on budgeting strategies, monitoring expenses, managing credit and establishing positive credit history.  Starting at 12:00 noon, the seminar will take place in the Commons Meeting Room, HS120, and attendance is encouraged and open to all students.  For more information on financial topics, visit or contact the UWW Financial Literacy Center.


How is a FICO Credit Score Determined?


When wanting to establish credit or raise your credit score,  a basic understanding of the comprising elements can assist you when making financial decisions.  A higher credit score leads to future benefits including lower interest rates, higher loan limits, and overall approval to credit card and loan applications.

How is a FICO credit score determined?

  1. Payment History (35%).  The most important factor in calculating credit scores is payment history. History is used to forecast future behaviors.  Making consistent and on-time payments to your credit cards and loans is one of the best ways to improve your credit score.
  2. Amounts Owed (30%).  FICO views those who habitually max out their credit cards as people who cannot handle debt responsibly.  Borrowers should maintain low credit card balances, and although there is no exact utilization ratio, many financial experts refer to the ‘30% rule’.  Example – If your credit card limit is $1,000, try not to charge over $300.
  3. Credit Length (15%).  A longer credit history offers more information on financial behavior.  It is impossible for a person who is new to credit to have an excellent score, as it takes time.  Those with credit should maintain their long-standing accounts.
  4. Types of Credit (10%).  A mix of credit (accounts, credit cards, and installment loans) is taken into consideration to determine a credit score.  A borrower with a good mix of credit generally represents less risk for lenders.
  5. New Credit (10%).  Borrowers should avoid opening too many credit lines at the same time, for such financial behavior might suggest financial trouble.  Consumers are encouraged to apply for and open new accounts only when needed.

For more resources and information on credit, visit the UWW Financial Literacy Center.

What is a Credit Score?

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a three-digit number that calculates the risk a lender takes when you borrow money.  This score is based on your credit report, and is generated by a mathematical algorithm.  The Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) credit score is used by 90% of lenders (source:

Why is your credit score important?

Your credit score is an important piece of your personal finances.  It helps lenders accurately predict your ability to repay a debt on time.  FICO scores range from 300 to 850, and a higher number indicates a lower risk to lenders.

If your credit score is low/poor, it may be difficult to find a financial institution or credit card company to lend you money, and if they do, most likely the interest rate will be unfavorable.  An increasing amount of landlords and potential employers are starting to check credit scores before leasing or hiring, and insurance companies may check credit scores when determining your premium costs.

How can I access my credit report and credit score?

As a consumer, you have access to a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) using  Unfortunately, your credit score is not included on your credit report.  To obtain your credit score number, you would need to purchase it from a score provider or one of the major credit bureaus.

For additional information on credit and credit management, students should visit the UWW Financial Literacy Center’s website or schedule a financial coaching session today!

To Apply, or Not to Apply

Now that I’m in college, should I apply for a credit card?

A common question among students, and one that can only be answered after personal reflection and choice.  On one hand, credit cards establish credit history and demonstrate responsible use of credit to future landlords and financial institutions.  Good credit can lead to lower interest rates on loans and the ability to obtain a loan or rent an apartment without a cosigner.  On the other hand, overspending, high interest rates, and not being able to pay off your balance each month pose risks to college-aged students that can follow them into adulthood.   Only you know what you are capable of, and if you are ready to handle the financial responsibility of a credit card.  For further information, visit the Financial Literacy Center or utilize our online resources.