When I was a senior in high school, I pulled in a decent amount of money working at a 40’s style diner called Ruby’s, so I was used to a little bit of income. In my first year of independence from home, I found myself without a job. As I flitted my money away in college, I soon began to realize that my pile of gold was rapidly dwindling; something had to be done. I tried a few ridiculous endeavors, one of which was managing a male stripper for private parties. It didn’t end of making me a scrap of money, but I was severely entertained by my attempts to make an income off of my friend’s ability to gyrate his body like Shakira.

The MoneySense program is composed of six free seminars which are going to be offered at Western to give students a crash course in dealing with money. The coordinator of the event, senior Alexa Volwiler, emphasized the importance of setting an early to precedent of good monetary routines before becoming completely independent financially.

“Most students don’t understand credit issues or the consequence of spending money in general. If you learn to control spending habits early, you are less likely to get into trouble later in life,” says Volwiler. She also mentions that with early planning— like, NOW— you can easily retire a millionaire.

This would have sounded preposterous to me, but I am lucky enough to have an uncle who pulled me aside and told me about a magical thing called a Roth IRA. Because of the information he gave me, I have already started investing in a retirement fund. (By the way, I am no financial expert. Iin fact, I couldn’t even resist a shiny new Victoria Secret credit card, so you have no excuse for not getting in the know.)

Retirement is just one of the topics that will be covered at the seminars. Are you one of the thousands of students at Western with student loans? Do you know how to tackle being in debt when you graduate? Are you prepared to file your taxes in a few years? Have you ever signed up for a credit card to get some sweet swag— like a free bra, airline miles or a piece of pizza?

Don’t worry though; if you struggle with these issues, there is a possibility that it’s not your fault. “At Western, unless you’re in business classes, you don’t get any finance classes…and even in the business courses you don’t get (information on) personal finance,” says Volwiler.

After doing some searching myself, I found that the only offering at Western is an independent study course. This could be a great option for some, but perhaps others would be attracted to MoneySense because it is an informal, non-graded, free group setting where they will be fed breakfast.

MoneySense is the brainchild of Volwiler and the Western branch of Beta Alpha Psi, a national honorary organization dedicated to students and professionals in the field of business information. When Beta Alpha Psi announced a competition to develop a program designed to help high school or college students increase their financial literacy, Volwiler sprung into action.

Pamela Whalley, who is assistant director of Western’s Center for Economic Education provided a wealth of “nationally proven materials as far as meeting standards for economic education,” according to Volwiler. Students and teachers also have access to the Center of Economic Education’s resource library, where they can loan educational materials for free.

However, if you’re a lazy college student like me but still want financial information—and breakfast— to be fed to you in a student-friendly format, the MoneySense seminars are a great resource. They will be offered from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays in the Biology building, room 234. The seminars are free, and students can chose to attend just those sessions that appeal to them. Though it would be very helpful if students signed up for the seminars in advance, it’s OK to just show up.

For more information, you can contact Alexa Volwiler, the MoneySense coordinator, at 303-0526 or alexa.volwiler@gmail.com. You can also check out the MoneySense web site at http://www.cbe.wwu.edu/clubs/bap/MoneySense/home.asp?page=0.
Schedule of events:

•January 7: Fun and introductions to personal finance, including media messages about money and consumerism; financial resources on campus and around town; banking and checking accounts.
•January 21: Budgeting and savings, including living within your means, and saving for the future – major life expenses and retirement.
•January 28: Credit cards, credit scores, and ID theft, including shopping for credit cards, consumer protection, using credit wisely and protection against ID theft online and offline.
•February 4: Living on your own, including budgeting for your lifestyle, financial questions to ask when looking for housing and financial lessons about roommates.
•February 11: Investing, including types of investments and setting investment goals.
•February 25: Taxes, including how to know your filing status, reasons for taxes and tax strategies. This session will be hosted by professionals from the Bellingham office of Moss Adams.