College Connect Spring 2019: Lessons Learned About Life, Finances and Family

Posted By David Wilhite on Tuesday February 19, 2019

 By Noelle Schon

When it comes to my personal experience with money, I am very lucky to have had parents who opened a college fund for me early on.  My parents are both in the business and finance field. My mother was a regional vice president for Bank of America before taking time off to raise me and my siblings. She is very helpful when it comes to explaining the financial world to me, which really piqued my interest in the field as I grew up. My college fund is made up of stock and has always been in a moderately-aggressive portfolio, so it has grown over the past few years but is also at risk of losing money as the stock market declines.

I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have the advantage my parents gave to me, so I try to balance spending the money wisely with not being stingy. With it, I am able to pay tuition and other college-related purchases such as boarding, textbooks and parking permits. This in turn will allow me to use the money I make in future jobs to support my family while using my college account toward tuition.

But this account has helped with more than just my college. My family has been in a state of financial crisis for nearly seven years after my father left us while we were on a vacation when I was 13 years old. At the time, he had cut off my mother’s access to most of our bank accounts, which was restored during the divorce process. The six years to follow were full of court proceedings, four moves and a lot of lessons in both life and finances. It taught me how quickly money can go and how important it was to invest and save. I cannot imagine what the situation would have been if we did not save or if I did not have this college fund. As a 529 fund, it only permits the money to go toward college expenses.

I also discovered just how much economics affected our lives at a personal level. When we sold the family home, we unfortunately sold it for the same price as we bought it due to a shaky economy from the 2008 crash. My father also lost his job, so he did not have to pay a large sum of child support. But at the same time, we were able to put a down payment on another house that ended up turning a profit that my mother could use to rent another home and provide for us. Through these experiences, my mother would always make an effort to explain the mechanics behind every financial decision she made to put me and my siblings at ease. The world of finances can be confusing, but I am incredibly thankful for my mother for teaching me about it.

Ultimately, I learned how important money and a good economy is for the future, but I also know it does not come above the relationships I have with my family. I feel these circumstances have given me an insight and will guide me as an investor, while also guiding how I approach economics in my reporting as a journalist.

Noelle Schon is a journalism student at Arizona State University.

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