The Women’s Innovation Network and the Marquette Graduate Student Organization held an event at the 707 Hub last Monday, Oct. 30, where students were given financial advice and tips from financial representatives of Northwestern Mutual.
Because they are both Marquette alumni, Erica Wright, financial representative, and James Benjamin Bell Jr., financial adviser, spoke with a small group of undergraduate and graduate students about how to optimize financial security and to answer the many questions that young adults may have about money.
Wright said she believes it is important to have these financial meetings on campus.
“We don’t talk about financial security at any other point in education,” Wright said. “We are not getting it in high, which is where it should start, and we are not getting it in our college classes. There’s a lot of information that left out there that we have to navigate on our own.”
“This is something that they need to know before they leave Marquette,” Sasha Parsons-Waters, WIN coordinator, said. “If you are not learning at home, then you need to learn it here and that is why I wanted to bring (the event) here (to Marquette).”
The event had a main focus on women, and Bell spoke about why focusing on women is essential.
“Women, especially from my experience as a planner, they tend to be the ones that have to deal with financial consequences,” Bell said. “Many times it the consequences of men who have not done the right things so it is important that we elevate women in the same way we focus on men so we can have better alignment as a community.”
Wright said it is beneficial to have women as the target audience.
“We typically see women in unfavorable financial situations,” Wright said. “They typically make less money, we end up in a bad position in life because money has not been saved, we are out of work longer because we are the caretakers of the family, and there are so many reasons why it makes a difference for women to be more efficient with their finances.”
According to early20smoney.com, the median retirement savings for an American man is $123,000, while the median for an American woman is $42,000
Educating students on finances is something that Bell and Wright said that they wished they had back when they were students at the university.
“I didn’t even know what a 401k was,” Bell said during the meeting. “Nobody pulled me to the side…I dreamed and wished because I did not know anything. I was a first-generation student and I did not have a family background that could teach that to me so it was even worse.”
Wright said she did not always have financial knowledge.
“Even from what I know now with how I navigate Free Application for Federal Student Aid, paying off student loans…no one even discussed that with me,” Wright said during the meeting.
To participate in opportunities to learn about money, Bell emphasized people must know how important money is.
“Money is a very emotional thing,” Bell said. “It creates memories for our families, memories of our childhood, some of us work our butts off to say we deserve it… there’s some much emotion that goes into money, so we want to caution you about going in it alone.”
To get help with managing money, Bell explained the process of choosing the right financial ally.
“It is so important for you to partner with a trusted ally,” Bell told the group. “Keep interviewing till you find that person that will coach you and help you be aware of your financial blind spots.”
Aside from a financial advisor, Wright told the group about certain apps that will help them manage their money well, including an app called Digit.
“Digit is my best friend app,” Wright said. “It tracks your spending patterns and saves money that you need to save. All of the clients like it, especially if they have trouble saving money.”
With all the help that people can receive, Bell said some things are more important than time and money.
“For me, money was always important and eventually, I learned that time really is money,” Bell said. “As I got older I started to realize that one thing is more important than time: energy. If you don’t have good energy than time does not matter. So, keep yourself focused on your values and you will be surprised at how things go your way.”