Let the Student Money Management Center show you how to get in -- and stay in -- the green

Tough economic times mean added challenges for everyone, including college students. But UNT's Student Money Management Center can help you navigate the obstacles of your financial life by teaching you the skills you need to help you succeed – skills that will bring you through times of adversity and times of prosperity.

Core money management skills

The Student Money Management Center starts by teaching you four basic core money management skills:

"Financial independence doesn't just happen overnight," says center director Paul Goebel. "It's the result of demonstrating financial responsibility through learned behaviors.  That's why all students need to learn, strengthen, and apply strong money management skills in their lives."

Teaching these skills forms the backbone for all of the center's services.

Student Money Management Center services

Since the center began in the fall of 2005, about 8,000 UNT students annually seek out the center's services. Each semester, students pay a Student Services Fee, and a portion of that fee is used to fund the Student Money Management Center.

"Based upon an enrollment of 33,000 students, each student's annual contribution from his or her Student Services Fee is just $6.60," says Goebel. "We're always asking anyone that we meet in our workshops, in our fairs, in our consultations, did they get $6.60 worth from this meeting? Did we maximize your investment?" 

Student to Student Success program

One of the center's new initiatives is its Student to Student Success (S2S) program, which harnesses the power of mentorship to help students learn from the experiences of their peers.

"Our S2S mentors are students who have sort of been there, done that and have learned from their financial experiences," Goebel says. "They are ready and have a passion to share those life experiences with others, their peers."

S2S mentors co-facilitate workshops and lead PEER (Planning, Engaging, Educating and Reviewing) sessions which teach the core money management skills all students need to apply to their financial lives.

A unique program

Though several universities across the country have money management programs that assist students, most are operated through a university's academic affairs division or through its business disciplines. The fact that UNT's program is a part of the Student Development Division sets it apart from other programs. In fact, when the center began on Oct. 1, 2005, Goebel says that because there were few similar programs, the center was given a blank canvas upon which to create a one-of-a-kind program. But, he says, what really sets the program apart and makes it a success is its goal to be wholly student centered.

"When we created this program, I went out and spoke with students and asked them what they wanted, what their needs were, what their concerns were, and out of that came the foundation upon which we built the center."

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15 tips to save money this holiday season

The holidays are coming and it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the season by going into a spending frenzy.  Goebel reminds you to use your money management skills over the holidays. Here are his tips to help you save money this holiday season:

  1. Focus on experiences, not gifts
    You probably cannot remember most of the gifts you gave or received as a child, but you probably have holiday memories around events or family times that you treasure. It is never too late to start traditions.
  2. Create a family gift-making project
    Get your family involved in a gift-making project: homemade ornaments or framed photos.
  3. Play "Secret Santa"
    Try to surprise neighbors or family members with good deeds without getting caught.   For instance, have your child do a sibling's chore or surprise neighbors with treats.
  4. Give of yourself
    Create gift certificates offering services to the people on your gift list. They can range from a car wash and wax, to a couple of hours running errands, to baby-sitting, to a homemade meal.
  5. Stock up
    Buy gifts throughout the year – start a "gift closet" to store your purchases. Take advantage of deep discounts and sales throughout the year. Keep small gifts on hand for last-minute gifts.
  6. Pay with cash
    Spend money you already have.
  7. Think before using your credit card
    People tend to spend more when using credit cards.
  8. Make a list
    Decide who you would like to give gifts to this holiday season before you go shopping.
  9. Remember those in need
    Make contributions to charities in the names of the people on your list.
  10. Create a budget
    Stick to it.
  11. Keep track of how much you spend
    Include gifts, dining and entertainment.   
  12. Shop alone
    When you're doing the bulk of your gift buying, shopping solo can help you cut down on impulse purchases.
  13. Steer clear of high-priced fad items
    Instead buy practical gifts. Resist the little extra presents.
  14. Shop online
    Take advantage of lower costs and often free shipping.
  15. Don't spoil the kids
    Try substituting a high-ticket item with a special "date" with your child.

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