More students need lessons in finance

By Emily Rodriguez-Vargas

Christmas is just around the corner, and for many, holiday shopping is on the top of the “things to do” list.

With Christmas gift expectations popping out at us in ads, Christmas music delighting our ears, secretly calling us out to shop, and the neverending gift lists for our loved ones, it’s challenging to keep to what we can afford and to use a budget throughout the holiday season.

Because of the enticing accessibility of credit cards that make the otherwise too expensive purchases easier, we have an overwhelming amount of debt in Utah. This could be partially attributed to a lack of money management skills or naïveté in respect to how credit card companies and collection agencies work.

In any case, when debt gets out of control, and additional unexpected hardships, such as a loss of employment or a sickness get in the way, many are compelled to file for bankruptcy.

Compared to the national average, Utah’s bankruptcy rate is outrageous. According to the official Zions Bank Web site, one in every 37 homes in Utah is affected by bankruptcy, compared to the national average of one in every 73 homes. According to the Utah Foundation 2004 report, “Going for broke: Utah’s alarming bankruptcy problem,” Utah scored as the highest state for filing bankruptcy in the nation in 2002 and 2003.

Before we start out in the “real world” beyond college, it might be helpful to take advantage of classes offered at the U to improve in these areas so we don’t end up thousands of dollars in debt asking, “What happened?”

Knowledge of personal finance is crucial to every student. Having a well-paid salaried job after college will not help us if we don’t learn now how to best use and save what we earn. It would be a lifelong benefit for each student to enroll in a semester of learning about how to best handle personal finance and investments.

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Emily Rodriguez-Vargas