Program teaches students about bad credit

In an attempt to educate students about money management, the student Financial Wellness Peer Educators held a presentation Thursday on “Staying On Good Terms: Managing Credit and Debit.”

The event was part of a three-week series of presentations on Thursdays at 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the University’s Wellness Center in Activities and Recreation Center.

The purpose of this program is to help students manage money more effectively, with a concentration on credit cards and debts, said Kathryn Sweedler, program coordinator and consumer economics educator. The program comprises of 16 peer educators who come from any major, though the majority have an interest in finance.

“It’s valuable to hear from peer educators, who will share their own experience,” Sweedler said. “It’s more interesting for students to relate to their peers.”

For each presentation, there are two peer educator presenters that rotate. Brian Mallen and Mary Peterson, seniors in ACES, were the two presenters for the Oct. 20 event.

“Basically, we’re a resource for students who have questions about finance,” Mallen said. “Sometimes it can be hard to talk to the bank. As peer educators, we’re near their age, making the dialogue more easy.”

There are some common credit card and debt misconceptions of which college students are unaware, Sweedler said. For instance, credit card holders have the choice to pay off all their debt or do minimal payment, but she said the first option would take a very long time to pay off.

“It’s important to achieve a balance,” Sweedler said. “Paying a little more could make a big difference for credit card holders’ debt.”

Mallen added he recently acquired a credit card, and it was important for him to know about bad credit. He said it is good to know about credit cards before graduation because in the real world, students won’t always be financially dependent on their parents.

“The earlier you know, the more prepared you are in the real world,” Mallen said.

Peterson said that it’s important to think ahead and to know how much the credit card holder can spend and afford.

“It’s easy for students to spend money using a credit card, but not realize how quickly debt can build up,” Peterson said.

Essentially, Sweedler said she hopes in the long run, students will learn to use credit cards more effectively and make wise loans in the future. She added carrying too much debt during these unsteady economic times could be problematic.

“Because of the financial situation, a lot of people have less leeway, less income and jobs aren’t as secure as compared to five years ago,” Sweedler said. “We have to be more careful about how much debt we’re carrying.”

The Financial Wellness Center would like to do a similar series in the spring, but it has not yet been scheduled.

The next presentation of this series will be the “Secrets of Credit Reports Unveiled” on Oct. 27 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Wellness Center.