Budgeting, credit and financial aid were the topics of discussion at the Financial Literacy Workshop on Friday at Palm Beach Atlantic University’s main campus for incoming freshman who are enrolled in Jump Start, and their parents. Students in Jump Start, a part of the Student Success Center’s Bridges program, arrive on campus several days before the official start of the school year to get acclimated and receive mentoring and academic coaching.
To accompany PBA Financial Aid Counselor Geneveve Gort’s presentation on the policies and procedures of maintaining financial aid and scholarships, Jason Calderwood was invited to offer tips on successful budgeting and credit habits.
Calderwood, a wealth management banker at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Jupiter, compared budgeting money while in college to time management.
“In order to maintain good grades, you have to manage your time to include study, work and activities,” he said. “While in college, you’ll have a certain amount of income in the bank, and you’ll have to plan out how much you’ll spend on food, books, tuition, car insurance, gas, to name a few.”
He informed attendees of free online budgeting tools most banks offer, which at the end of the month help to determine spending habits -- whether they’re helpful or hurtful.
“Is spending $100 a month at a coffee franchise cost effective?” Calderwood said. “Preparing your own coffee instead, over time will help you save money for a car, or even a down payment on a new apartment.”
To make purchases such as a car or renting an apartment requires a good credit history. Calderwood explained getting credit is not how it used to be.
“Credit is hard to get these days,” he said. “The easiest way to get credit is not to need credit. But, you are starting with a clean slate. Use your credit wisely, so you can maintain a high credit score.”
Calderwood advised students if they obtain a credit card and make purchases, put money aside ensuring the bill will paid at the end of the month. He warned missing payments will increase the interest rate, and recommended making monthly payments more than the minimum amount due.
“If you have a $500 credit limit, max out the card, then make minimum payments, you’re telling a lender you’re willing to take money, but not so willing to pay them off,” he said.
To play it safe, Calderwood suggested trying to only use credit cards in emergencies. Also, a good option for a first-time credit card is a secured credit card.
Keysha Porch of Fort Lauderdale attended the workshop with her daughter, Bridges student, Ketorra Burch, and appreciated the advice Calderwood offered.
“I wanted my daughter to find out about and understand budgets, so she doesn’t overspend,” Porch said.