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Accounting for your life

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In thinking about topics to tackle for the new year, the Tartan staff and I hit upon one that doesn’t get enough attention: personal finance.

College students aren’t the best with money, and it reflects in the many negative stereotypes that older generations — and students themselves — believe in. The idea that we tend to overspend, undervalue the importance of saving, and are often saddled with debt hangs over us like a dark cloud, branding us as financially irresponsible.

But while it’s easy to buy into the gainsaying, the reality is more complicated. Recent analysis shows that members of Gen Z tend to be more financially sound than their predecessors, better understanding the importance of things such as saving and retirement.

So, although it’s not true that Gen Z is by default bad at handling money, there is still room for improvement. According to a study by the National Endowment for Financial Education, only 24 percent of millennials — who are not that far away from us in age — are considered financially literate. A lack of solid money habits now can translate to compounding consequences down the line, so statistics such as these are alarming.

It’s not reasonable, of course, to cover the entirety of financial literacy in a weekly column. As with any field of importance, there is an overwhelming amount of information out there, and to cover it all in detail would take forever (not to mention a whole lot of ink and paper!). With that in mind, welcome to Accounting for Your Future, the Tartan’s new personal finance column! The goal of this installment is to cover the big topics of saving, spending, and investing, all in focused pieces published weekly.

College is a transition between adolescence and adulthood, and part of that transition is getting your financial ducks in a row. Of course, as busy Carnegie Mellon students, we have various priorities such as our studies, research, and extracurriculars, so planning for the future sometimes takes a back seat. Yet good habits established early can pay dividends later, so it’s worth your consideration. This column is not intended to teach you everything you need to know to be financially literate, but the hope is that this introduction will spark your interest to learn more about how to be financially prosperous. If you’re just starting to think about finance, then think of this as a springboard. And if you’re already a finance wizard, maybe you’ll learn something new.

That’s all for now! Tune in next week where we will begin to discuss the all-important act of saving.