During my business accounting class sophomore year, Professor Robin Soffer did something I’ll never forget: she taught us about 401(k)s. Yes, the topic initially sounded sleep-inducing, but its necessity quickly became apparent. Professor Soffer stated that it would be a disservice if she didn’t teach us about the programs and concepts that would undoubtedly affect our long-term financial health. And she was right.
Soffer’s much-appreciated lesson is a rarity on Northwestern’s campus. Across the university’s six undergraduate schools, there are no courses focused on personal finance. Different departments have developed campus programming and even a website dedicated to financial wellness, but resources tend to be sparse, out-of-touch, or unknown to students.
A 2016 study conducted by PwC and George Washington University found that only 24 percent of millennials have basic financial literacy and a mere 8 percent demonstrated high financial literacy. Where should students turn to shrink this knowledge deficit? Instead of waiting until graduation and scrambling to understand the barrage of financial jargon, skills, and forms, check out these four resources.
To Track: Mint.com
If you’re looking to track your spending, pay your bills, or determine your credit score, this is the place to start. Mint’s website and mobile app connect directly with your bank account, allowing you to easily see and categorize your spending. Categories include everything from entertainment to education, and the site gives you the option of creating short-term and long-term money goals. You’ll also receive a weekly spending report so you can see how you’re doing over time and where you may need to cut back.
To Skim: LearnVest Knowledge Center
LearnVest is a financial planning company that sells personal finance software, but their website features a section full of quick personal finance reads. Article topics include how to pay your taxes, how to set financial goals, and how to invest. If there’s a specific area you’d like to learn more about or you’re short on time, simply click through the site’s numerous financial categories to learn more.
To Read: Rich Bitch by Nicole Lapin
Written by Northwestern alumna Nicole Lapin (go ‘cats!), Rich Bitch is one of the most accessible and comprehensive personal finance books I’ve found. Lapin’s motto, “Because budgeting sucks, but so does being broke” reflects the book’s candid, no-fuss attitude. Lapin details her personal successes and money slip-ups with the desire to bring everyone up to speed. Whether you want to make a plan for paying off student loans or learn about saving for retirement (no, it’s never too early) this book can help. It will likely be something you return to again and again in order to plan for success.
To Listen: Millennial Money Podcast
The Millennial Money Podcast hosted by Shannah Compton Game boils down personal finance topics and answers all your money questions. Compton Game is an award-winning Certified Financial Planner and author whose written and talked extensively about millennial finances. Learn about the best places to live to get out of credit card debt or how recent grads have budgeted their money in her quick 15 to 30-minute segments.
Bonus: Material World Podcast
One of my personal favorites, this Bloomberg News podcast discusses the details behind “all the things you eat, drink, wear, and even smoke.” Learn about Instagram influencers, why your destined to buy clothing for your pet, and the reason you haven’t bought a pair of boot-cut jeans since middle school. This podcast will help you understand consumer trends, and it’s just plain fun.
(Photo courtesy of 401kcalculator.org)