Cents and Sensibility

Apr 25, 2012

Most of the events during Money Smart Week are given by finance professionals. One set of presentations, though, is not being given by a bank officer or a CPA. Northern Illinois University's Financial Cents program employs students to teach their peers what they need to know when it comes to money. Now, during Money Smart Week, they're doing the same thing for the larger community. 

Law student Nick Plattos is one of the program's "peer educators." He thinks he and his colleagues will do just fine.  "The advantage that we have," he says, "is that when you’re in a profession, you kind of learn the jargon, and you may not realize that an audience that doesn’t have that background may not grasp the concept as completely as you think you’re portraying it, and so I think as students we have to first, make sense of the topic to ourselves, and then portray it to the audience in a way they’re going to understand it." 

Thurston Booth is completing his Masters in Accounting Science degree. He says managing things like your credit cards or your credit score is something every student should know, and that's why he's involved with Financial Cents. But he knows it's not just students who need help. Booth says, “A lot of people aren’t really financially informed, so a part of the outreach program of Financial Cents is to get out in the community, just to make sure these people have the resources and the know-how to make some well-informed financial decisions.”

Anne Kaplan is vice president for university outreach at NIU. For her, the presentations by Financial Cents, along with other programs hosted by NIU during the week, are an opportunity for the school to fulfill part of its mission. “NIU is a regional institution," Kaplan says. "We have an enormous interest in connecting with students before they’re students, while they’re students and after they’re students. So anything we can do to be of greater service to individuals in this region is just a natural fit for us."

For Nick Plattos, the important thing is, not to put it off. "Regardless of whether you learn to budget when you’re ten or when you’re thirty, the fundamentals need to start as soon as you possibly can," he says, "because those fundamentals are building blocks for the rest of your life.”

 You can find a complete schedule of Financial Cents' Money Smart Week presentations at http://www.niu.edu/financialcents/Money%20Smart%20Week.shtml