By Breanne Smith
Pay your debt. Save money. Invest. Sounds like hounding you might hear from parents. Last night students had the opportunity to learn exactly why Mom and Dad might know best at the Financial Literacy Student Seminar.
"If [students] learned only one thing, I think all of us on the panel would like it to be that the only way to reach financial goals is by saving money," Natalie Chieffe, associate professor of finance and panel moderator, said. "Each one of us, in some way, emphasized that no one should spend all their money. Each person should save and invest as much as they can."
In addition to Chieffe, panelists included George Smalley, vice president of residential lending at Peoples Bank; Kevin Smith, Ohio University interim assistant leadership director for Campus Life; Mark Barath, Student Equity Management Group board member; and Shirley Love, finance professor.
The panel also included Sylvia Crawley, women's head basketball coach for Ohio University, who encouraged students to have a "plan B" in the event that they do not reach their personal goals. She used her own story as an example.
When Crawley was able to write her own contract with the American Basketball League in 1998, she was set to make more than any other female basketball player. Unfortunately for her, the three-year contract only lasted six months before the ABL filed bankruptcy and Crawley was without an income.
Since then, she's created a plan B, plan C, plan D and plan E for herself, owning a magazine, becoming a fashion designer, coaching and working in real estate.
"Today I have multiple streams of income," Crawley said. "I don't believe in putting all of your eggs in one basket."
Smalley advised students on the topic of credit cards and recommended having only one, saying that he occasionally needed one for emergencies when he was a student at O.U.
"There's no reason to have a whole list of credit cards, though," he said. "I have just one, even now."
Chieffe offered the advice of skipping two lattes or a magazine each paycheck to invest $5 in a savings account, which could amount to over $8,000 in 20 years.
While the panelists covered general topics, some students came with particular financial questions. Senior European studies major Emily Mitolo came to the event to learn more about investing.
"I have no clue about it," she said. "I just have a savings account, and I use my credit card like crazy."
She told the panel that she had been disappointed by the low interest on short-term CDs at her bank, and Barath emphasized that she should shop around.
"Credit unions or small banks tend to have slightly higher interest rates," Chieffe added. "With small accounts, one of the worst things you can do is put it in a big bank."
Smalley was pleased with the turnout for the event, which Women in Philanthropy hosted.
"I commend those students who care enough about their financial futures to take time out of their day to educate themselves," he said. "There is a lot to learn and tons of information to cover."
He hopes that students learned four basic principles: establish a budget and stick to it, don't spend more than you make, pay your savings account first and take care of your credit.