OPINION: Take a finance class

Good finance skills are important for all adults to have — they help with large, impactful decisions like homebuying



You don’t need to be a mathematician to understand finance.


Whenever tax season approaches, I have many concerns. What if I make a mistake on my taxes? What if I miss something? Am I doing this right? Many students have the same concerns when it comes to organizing finances.

I’ve heard the majority of students voicing the same concerns, saying they do not know how to do their taxes independently. College requires students to take on adult responsibilities, but one does not need to do it on their own. Taking an introductory class in finance can give you the foundation to understand and manage your finances. 

Curtis Cohen, senior finance major and ASWSU president, said that you will exercise financial skills no matter what life stage you are in. He said that big financial decisions, such as paying off student loans or a car or getting a mortgage on your first home, can be daunting but if you have financial knowledge, it will allow you to traverse those large life decisions. 

“Those are all things that can be pretty tricky to figure out, and so having financial knowledge will help you navigate those big financial decisions. Really just make sure that you’re getting the best deal and you’re set up for a good fiscal future,” Cohen said. 

Cohen said his high school did not have a finance requirement and that he wished he was taught financial skills in high school. 

He said some larger financial skills that should be taught are how to properly use a credit card, manage your credit score, how to invest money, utilize stocks and take out a loan. 

Cohen said a way to avoid being overwhelmed by your finances is to oversee your daily spending habits.

“Things like day-to-day personal investing, keeping track of monthly expenses and setting up a budget [helps] so that you are able to live a lifestyle that doesn’t stress you out with finances,” Cohen said.

Cohen said that these skills are crucial to learn.

“Those topics are super essential and should definitely be taught to anyone because everyone sometime in their life will come across at least one of those financial components,” Cohen said. 

He said that students that are graduating and emerging into adulthood should set a personal budget and put away money into savings. 

“I think the most important thing to learn about finance is setting aside money for future goals or emergencies,”  Cohen said. “Budgeting correctly monthly settings like a limit and then sticking to those goals, and just really staying disciplined to those goals.” 

He said this is necessary for future expenses that someone might run into. 

Cohen said if students are interested, they should look into the Personal Finances class that is offered by WSU’s Carson College of Business. He said that finance does not require a lot of math and it is more keeping track of your personal spending habits. 

He recommends apps like Mint, which keeps track of your spending habits when you make a purchase, and Acorn, which invests money into the stock market. 

“I think those are really great ways to let people get control of their finances,” Cohen said. 

Keeping track of your spending does not only help you in the present, but it will definitely benefit you in the future. 

“To stay disciplined and sticking to a schedule for your budget is not an immediate effect, but over the long term, it does add up and make a difference down the road,” Cohen said. 

Alexander Pan, senior finance, accounting, and economics major and ASWSU vice president-elect, said he believes that everyone should take a finance class. 

“I think everyone at WSU, in my opinion, should take a finance class because whatever you do in life, whatever job you end up getting, you have to deal with finances one way or the other,” Pan said. “I think it’s really important to understand and know, especially heading out to college and getting your first job because its value is tremendous.”

Pan said when you are looking for a job, make sure that job offers benefits and know when you want to retire. 

“I think that’s really important so that way, you know when you are handed that paper and you have to choose what bracket you want to go into, it’s good to understand what’s in it and what it means for you going into the future,” Pan said. 

He discussed compound interest and why that is important. 

“When you work out $10 sitting in your wallet, you think that’s just $10. Understanding the concept of compounding interest such as [putting] $10 in the stock market, that on average returns 10 percent. Then, let’s say I retire in 30 years, it adds up and I think a lot of people don’t understand that concept as well as they should because it’s important if you want to be financially stable,” Pan said. 

He said that one does not need to be a brilliant mathematician to understand finance. 

“You don’t have to be a finance genius to necessarily invest in savings. It’s just as simple as you know, opening up a brokerage account, reading the news and catching up on what markets are doing,” Pan said.

There are many concepts when it comes to finance, but basic ones, like how to use a credit card and manage your finances, are not impossible to do. To grasp a rudimentary understanding of finances, it can be done by downloading apps or taking a finance class. It might seem daunting at first but they are skills that you will use in everyday life.