Professor talks managing personal finances after graduation


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Photo by Elaine Zhang |

Barbara O’Neil, a professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, spoke yesterday at the Cook Campus Center on strategies for students to save money after graduation.


After graduation, students will be thrust into the so-called real world, where they will be responsible for their personal finances and many will be unprepared for the task. But Professor Barbara O’Neill detailed tips last night to prepare future graduates to take the plunge.

O’Neill, a professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics spoke at the Cook Campus Center for her lecture “Millionaire in the Making,” specifying what upperclassman should know about finances while approaching graduation.

O’Neill, an extension specialist in Financial Resource Management, based her lecture on Jump$tart’s “12 Principles of Personal Finance and Literacy,” detailing how to successfully manage money.

“Managing money wisely is an essential life skill,” she said.

She touched upon many of Jump$tart’s tips that help lead to a successful financial future. First, she advised that everyone should know his or her take-home pay, the amount of money that remains after deductions and bills.

She then told attendees that people should pay themselves first, meaning savings should be treated as expenses. A portion of every paycheck should be put aside for savings or signed-up for a specific saving plan.

O’Neill said University students should start saving young.

“You have time on your side,” she said. “If you start early, try to save larger amounts. Take advantage of as much financial gain as you possibly can.”

Barbara Turpin, Cook campus dean for undergraduate education, said the lecture was important for college students.

“Toward the end of the school year, our graduating students and recent alumni need to know how to manage money so they can survive,” she said. “[O’Neill] speaks all over the state, and it will be nice for students to take advantage of her expertise.”

O’Neill believes her lecture will be useful for University students entering the professional world.

“[The lecture] stemmed from a lecture given by Dr. David Ehrenfeld that showed how many students did not necessarily have a lot of life skills and the resources to cope,” she said.

These life skills range from learning how to gain compound interest to preparing nutritious meals and fixing basic problems on a computer.

O’Neill also acknowledged that students should be aware of how debt plagues the United States.

“[Last year] 25 percent of all homeowners were underwater, meaning your mortgage is worth more then the value of your home,” she said.

Individuals can detect warning signs of debt problems when he or she pays the minimum balance, notices his or her total balances increase each month and misses loan payments or makes late payments, she said.

But she said people can prevent falling into debt by budgeting finances, recording spending accounts and setting financial goals.

O’Neill said students should begin to map their financial futures by categorizing their goals — short-term goals to be completed within a three-year time period, medium-term goals to be completed in 3 to 10 years and long-term goals to be completed beyond a 10-year time span.

“Planners take control of what they want to do and are usually more successful about saving money,” O’Neill said.

Melissa Tarver, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said she attended the lecture to get a head start on her financial future, while most people wait to do so during their senior year.

“I think if you like money, want to earn it and get out of debt, you should definitely come to O’Neill’s next lecture,” Tarver said.


Melissa Klang

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