Mind on your money

Ferris students learn about money management

Ferris students had the opportunity to learn how to end money stress in an event for Money Smart Week.

Green Path Debt Solutions Representative Mark Munzenberg created a presentation specifically for college students and the types of financial issues Ferris students face.

Green Path is a non-profit company that provides a variety of services, such as free counseling, budgeting and education to consumers, among others.

In Munzenberg’s presentation, random students at a college campus were surveyed. Less than 40 percent of students knew what student loan default was. On the contrary, more than 90 percent of students knew who Justin Beiber’s girlfriend was.

“Financial awareness is a hot topic on campus, and we work together to find solutions for student loan debt and other financial pressures that Ferris students face,” Financial Aid Office Coordinator Melanie Mulder said.

Munzenberg discussed several key topics in understanding financial management such as budgets, identity theft, bad loans and credit reports, scores and histories.

According to a 2013 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, 56 percent of U.S. adults say they do not have a budget and don’t have a good idea of how much they spend.

“No one would ever build a house without a blueprint,” Munzenberg said. “No one would ever go on vacation without a plan. It’s the same thing with a budget; it’s a spending plan. You just direct where your money goes.”

An essential step in managing your finances is distinguishing needs and wants, according to Munzenberg. He said he sees a lot of overspending in cellular phones, cable, and vacations.

“Be yourself, not your neighbor,” Munzenberg said, “You are in charge of your finances.”

According to Munzenberg, some signs of financial trouble he sees often is people are unaware of how much they spend, use credit cards frequently, buy on impulse, and are often late with bills.

For this reason, he encourages people to track their spending.

“One piece of advice I give people that are really struggling with tracking expenses is to use cash,” Munzenberg said. “It tends to keep your spending a little bit under control.”

He also discussed what is on a credit report and who can access the information.

According to Munzenberg, all of your past accounts opened and closed will remain on your credit report for 10 years. Additionally, late or missed payments will remain on the report for 7 years.

“Consumers too often find out the hard way how easy it is to damage credit and what kind of impact credit has on major purchases such as vehicles or homes,” Mulder said.

To build good credit, Munzenberg encourages that one should pay bills on time, keep credit balances low, refrain from applying for store credit too frequently, and only charge what can be repaid.

“The information presented at Monday’s event will be of value to the students that attended for the rest of their lives,” Mulder said.