College Connect: Financial Satisfaction a Result of Strong Financial Behavior

Posted By Crystal Beasley

By Gracie Thompson

Strong financial behaviors are more important than a base of financial knowledge when it comes to a person’s overall financial satisfaction.

Ann Woodyard, an assistant professor in financial planning, housing, and consumer economics at the University of Georgia said, “What you do has a much greater impact than what you know or how you feel when it comes to personal financial satisfaction.”

Taking time to make a budget, opening a savings account, and maintaining a good credit score are just a few financial behaviors that can improve financial satisfaction and ease money related uncertainty, especially among the 70 percent of college students reported to experience financially related stress.

In 2015, The Ohio State University reported that almost 60 percent of students surveyed feared not being able to pay for school, while 50 percent were stressed about making ends meet each month.

James Thompson, a financially savvy senior at the University of Georgia, manages his money by eating on the meal plan and working as a resident assistant for University Housing not only to earn a paycheck but to live rent free as well.

While not everyone is fortunate enough to get a resident assistant position, college students can take some of Thompson’s principles to heart. “I think the main thing is trying to be mindful of my spending. I don’t really have a set saving plan. I just try not to be frivolous with my spending,” Thompson says.

One of the biggest obstacles college students face when it comes to current and future financial satisfaction is the long told tale of student debt. The Institute for College Access and Success reported the average 2015 graduate from the University of Georgia had $22,087 in student loan debt.

Student loan debt not only creates the obvious problem of young adults starting off in the working world financially stunted, but it may also affect their ability to achieve future financial goals.

“College students who graduate with large amounts of student debt have trouble setting and achieving financial goals,” said Woodyard, who urges students upon graduating to establish an emergency savings fund even if they do nothing else with their financial planning.

Woodyard said this specific financial behavior leads to a decrease in the probability people will make a financial mistake, because those with an emergency savings fund live without worry that the errant flat tire or freak accident that leads to a hospital visit will lead to financial ruin.

Her advice to college students, whether they are financially competent like Thompson or staring fearfully at a looming pile of student debt, is all the same. “Save. It’s the same advice I got when I graduated college, and I, of course, ignored it for years,” she said.

Gracie Thompson is a student at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia

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