Eau Claire (WQOW) — From paying bills to saving for retirement, many of us need to understand our own finances.
UW-Eau Claire senior Wyatt Haas noticed many important life skills were not being met through course work.
“There’s kind of a saying that goes ‘I wish I learned that in school’, and I think that really rings true, especially for college students,” Haas said. “They’re leaving university at age 21, 22, and they don’t know how to set up a bank account, they don’t know how to do their taxes, how to set up a 401k. Especially when they’re getting jobs, they don’t know how to do salary negotiation, or just basically start their lives.”
Haas is the president of Blu’$ Gold Financial Management, a student run organization that teaches financial literacy.
“We teach things like student loans, how to rent and lease and apartment, how to budget,” Haas told News 18. “These student are on their own for the first time, they might not know how to manage their income and their expenses, so we help them set up good budgets.”
Experts agree financial literacy is a life-long tool.
“Financially literacy is important in high school, it’s critical in college, especially if you’re starting to take on debt,” said Andrew Schlafer, financial planner with R.W. Baird & Co. “You get that first job and you say ‘I can live on 90 percent of this’, it’s great because now you’ve got 10 percent going in. If you wait until you’ve been living on the full 100 percent, it’s hard to go to 90 percent spending. Where’s the 10 percent going to come from?”
One goal Haas has – lowering the rate of people defaulting on their student loans, to zero percent.
“When students graduate from a UW-System school, they never have to worry about ‘am I going to be able to pay my loans back’, ‘am I going to be financially secure for these next ten years,” said Haas. “We want to set them up for success on day one.”
On a larger scale, Haas told News 18 he wants Blu’$ Gold to serve students across the state, so they can reach their goals.
“We’re working with the board of regents right now to expand our reach to other universities in Wisconsin, so hopefully we can reach literally every single student that comes to a UW system campus, so that by the time they graduate they’re able to go after those financial goals that they’ve wanted to,” said Haas.
Overall, Haas wants Blu’$ Gold Financial to provide a better sense of security when it comes to handling your finances.
“I want to try to teach people that it’s okay to start planing for the future, it’s okay to start looking at these things as tools and not something to be afraid of,” Haas said.
Blu’$ Gold is free and open to anyone who needs help understanding finances or budgeting. If you’d like to set up an appointment, click here.