Carleton hosts Financial Literacy Month

Carleton’s Awards and Financial Aid is hosting Financial Literacy Month (FLM) throughout November.

Mark Robinson, manager of financial aid at the Awards Office said: “We think [financial literacy is] really valuable information to get out to students.”

According to their website, FLM aims to teach students how to take charge of their finances.

“It is a bit of an uphill battle,” Robinson said about trying to get students interested in the topic. “As you can imagine, it’s not always the most exciting topic for students to be thinking about or necessarily the most top of mind as they’re worrying about exams and stuff.”

Events this month will seek to teach students about topics such as consumerism, banking products, budgeting, paying back student loans, traveling on a budget, and responsible credit card use, according to the Awards Office website.

Desirae Odjick, the author of the finance blog “Half-Banked,” spoke in MacOdrum Library on Nov. 7 about student budgeting.

A recent graduate and Carleton alumnus, Odjick said she understands how hard budgeting can be for students.

“I’m not a 50-year-old white man in a suit sitting across a desk at the bank,” she said.

Odjick said one of the hardest things students deal with is having an irregular income, as one week they receive thousands of dollars in grants or bursaries, but then have no source of income for the next few months.

She did offer some concrete advice.

“The one thing that I would really stress is just try to avoid credit card debt if you can at all,” she said, referring to the high interest rates on credit card debt.

Ndutta Njoroge, a first-year information technology student, said she came to the event because “I thought I needed help with personal financing.”

She said she found Odjick’s budgeting advice useful.

“It was really helpful, and I like her take on things because she was a student and she knows the struggles . . . it was really nice to get her input,” Njoroge said.

Robinson said FLM has been in effect for the past four years.

“Every year we’ve been gaining a little more traction,” he said.

He also mentioned Odjick’s event was a new addition to the month.

While he said he would have liked to see a few more students attend the event, he admits many students are busy with midterms and classes. 

“I was happy with the participation that was here,” Robinson noted.

Njoroge said she plans on attending more of the upcoming FLM events.

She said she thinks it’s important the university hosts events on financial literacy. She also said students sometimes impulse buy things they can’t necessarily afford.

“We also have irregular income so it’s good to know how to plan for yourself,” Njoroge said.

Robinson said the month was an initiative in partnership with the Financial Consumer Agency Canada (FCAC), but added that “we like to try to put the student kind of spin on it.”

He said while the FCAC focuses on financial literacy in general, Carleton gears their events to post-secondary students.

“It has gained a little bit of momentum over the last few years, so it’s our way of injecting that conversation into the students at a time when hopefully at least some people are paying attention to it,” Robinson said.

He said students who use the information find it helpful.

“Some students do, and the students that do get a lot of benefits out of it,” he said.

FLM has several more events planned for the month, including talks about personal finance, money management, investing, and credit.

All the events are free and are being held in MacOdrum Library.

Photo by Aaron Hemens