Beyond the bubble: personal finances in the real world

Victoria Walker, Staff Writer

As January draws to a close and University students settle into their new classes, many seniors have become hyperaware of their impending Commencement. Many are already looking for apartments and trying to determine where they can afford to live based on their new post-graduation salaries. While the average University student graduates with eight semesters of coursework under their belt, many are left unversed in vital topics like taxes, debt, and insurance. The College of Management and the Boyer Family Fund sought to change this.

The University’s newest college held a program on Jan. 27 called “Beyond the Bucknell Bubble: Personal Finances in the Real World” from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Academic West. For approximately 60 seniors who braved the early morning wake-up to talk about their futures, four 90-minute sessions outlined the basics of budgeting and taxes, savings and investment, credit and debt, and insurance. Students also left with a concise, professionally-printed handbook covering all of the information presented, as well as a free copy of Beth Kobliner’s bestseller, “Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties.” These materials were purchased with the help of a notable alum.

“The event is sponsored by the generous support of the Boyer Family Fund,” presenter and Associate Professor of Management, Curtis Nicholls said. “The Boyer Family Fund was created by gifts from Blair A. Boyer, Class of 1983, and his wife, Elizabeth, dedicated parents of Eliza Boyer, Class of 2016, and Sonia Boyer, Class of 2018. Income from the Fund will support management education, with preference for supporting experiential learning opportunities and curriculum development projects that benefit both management and non-management majors.”

This group included English major Olivia Kalb ’18 who was interested in learning how to manage finances. “I’ve taken Economics 102, but that was just theories and principles of economic. My parents have given me advice on doing my own finances, but it’s not the same as a nine-hour lecture from experienced professors,” Kalb said.

Faculty members from Accounting and Financial Management who spoke include Nicholls, Associate Professor of Management Cindy Guthrie, Associate Professor of Management Stacy Mastrolia, and Associate Professor of Managerial Practice Frank Schreiner. Each professor presented on one topic, repeating the session twice for two separate rotations of students.

Guthrie, who has worked as a corporate financial planner, “discovered that a lot individuals and couples do a really poor job of managing their money. They’re in excessive debt or they’re not saving toward their future goals or retirement,”

Nicholls presented on budgeting and taxes incorporating a “Budget Game of Life,” during which students were able to approximate their own post-graduation taxes.

A potential project for the upcoming school year is to develop a semester-long course on basic personal finances, open to students of all majors and colleges, taught by Guthrie.

“My real desire would be for every student at Bucknell to have some level of financial literacy before graduating,” Guthrie said.

In addition, the College of Management plans to continue with both its annual day-long finance program and its CDC-collaboration, the “Money Savvy Series.” The latter consists of three varying one-hour lunch sessions with much of the same content as the January program.

“Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” Nicholls said. “I’m truly grateful for the student feedback as it encourages me to continue to develop related material and teach about these topics in a variety of settings.”

“I never really had a serious discussion about this with my family and I didn’t take a class on it in high school. This session gave me a lot of confidence going into the next phase of my life where I will have to be financially responsible for myself,” said Cassidy Dodson ’18, who plans on enrolling in medical school next year.

“To me, liberal arts is about educating the whole self, including personal topics such as personal finance,” Nicholls said. “The topics presented, specifically budgeting, represent a significant tool to avoid the captivity that comes from living beyond one’s means and the associated financial distress.”

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