You and your bucks

Financial education, or financial literacy, is constantly under fire as to its effectiveness. But it isn’t the same as learning algebra or a second language. The financial world is always changing and has become very complex for consumers. A few years ago, we didn’t have credit reports and credit scores. Today, our credit histories determine the interest we pay on loans, the amount we pay on our car insurance and our hire-ability. And unlike learning a math skill, financial management is about good financial behavior. It is about making good decisions. I think we can all agree that to make good financial decisions, we need to know more about money management.

Financial CounselingWhen it comes to learning about money management, nothing works like one-on-one counseling at the office during work hours, according to an analysis from The Principal Financial Group. Employees who received counseling made positive changes in their finances, resulting in more savings, among other good outcomes.

Consumers, which include students, staff and faculty here at the university, make financial decisions every day. In fact, they make many financial decisions every day: What should I eat for lunch? What mode of transportation should I take to work and school? Should I use a credit card or debit card for that purchase? Financial counselors can help consumers make these decisions by offering a broad range of knowledge about budgeting, debt, goals, savings and getting finances organized.

The University of Utah’s Personal Money Management Center is committed to assisting students, staff and faculty with their financial concerns. The center strives to create a competent and confidential atmosphere where individuals can have access to accredited counseling, services, quality financial education and appropriate tools to achieve lifelong successful financial outcomes.

Below are a few Q&A’s on financial counseling:

What is financial counseling?

Financial counselors provide confidential and independent advice to people experiencing financial difficulty or to people who are currently doing well, but want to avoid financial pitfalls. Counselors are educated, trained and have certifications to practice. Counseling aims to improve an individual’s financial situation through specific actions.

Financial counselors are different than financial planners. While financial counselors assist people in building a better credit report, communicating with a significant other about finances, avoiding identity theft and financial scams, and taking charge of their financial future, financial planners generally assist people with management of their assets by providing investment advice.

What should I do to prepare for my counseling appointment?

To allow a financial counselor to establish a better picture of a client’s finances, clients should provide the following:

  • Details of income
  • A list of all debts
  • Information on loan agreements, such as student loans
  • Details of outstanding bills
  • Information about court documents or letters about bills that seem urgent

What will the financial counselor do?

During the consultation, the counselor will use all available information about a client’s financial situation to prepare a budget or a financial snapshot to highlight where their money is going. The counselor will ask the client about their ideas for managing the situation and regaining control over their finances. If the client is behind on bills, the counselor will advise which debts should be viewed as a priority. Education may be given regarding the establishment of and responsible management of credit. The goal is to provide information and advice specific to the client’s needs.

In the end, the counselor will teach how to make good financial decisions, not which decision to make.

Where do I go for financial counseling at the University?

The U’s Personal Money Management Center is located in the Olpin University Union, Room 317 (above the theater on the east side of the Union). It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To schedule a free one-on-one appointment, call 801-585-7379.

Though we try, we can’t promise that we will rid you of financial worries, but we can help you avoid pitfalls and to see opportunities. So visit us soon! Why? Because it is expensive to wait any longer.