Real estate coordinator wants personal finance course for all students

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Students need a knowledge of savings, credit card debt and investment in a retirement plan, she said.

By Andrew Casas

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Dr. Melissa Weathersby, coordinator for real estate, plans to continue her efforts to make a personal finance course mandatory at this college.

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“I want to teach this class so I can customize it to what I want to train these students,” Weathersby said Sept. 6. “This course will be a full semester instead of it being a component of the EDUC and SDEV classes that you first take as student.”

Back in 2011, Weathersby served on a committee that drafted Texas House Bill HB 399. The Bill, signed into a law by Gov. Rick Perry, allows four-year institutions to provide financial awareness classes for students to help prepare them for adulthood.

The course is BUSI 1307, Personal Finance, which is taught here online only by business Professor Mahmood Yusef. The course is required for business majors.

She met with college administrators here in the spring about the possibility of making this course mandatory but no decision was made.

No curriculum changes have been discussed or approved for mandating personal finance as part of the existing 60-hour degree plan; however, Weathersby is exploring options.

Weathersby said Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board regulations and college curriculum procedures would have to be met before changes can be made to existing degree plans.

She believes having a face-to-face version of the course would increase student exposure to personal finance.

This course would help students understand budgeting, saving and using credit.

Weathersby believes the course should be required for all majors.

Another step she believes is getting a partnership with local banks.

“Possibly trying to partner with local banks and credit unions is next just so students have access to getting their bank account set up or credit cards,” she said.

The personal finance class could also be available for faculty and staff, she said.

“I know students want this class. I want it more than you guys do,” she said. “It would be my hope that everyone gets access to this class as a resource because people do not know where to go or what questions to ask.”

Weathersby used to be a manager for Security Service Credit Union and Nations Bank and was an assistant vice president for Bank of America.

“As a branch manager, I knew the different products that we sold,” she said. “We just never taught customers how these products worked.

“Now that I’m over here in education, people need this. They need to understand what they are signing up for,” she said.

Weathersby’s overall goal is to create awareness for students of savings, credit card debt and investment in a retirement plan.

“You can’t start saving when you’re 55 for retirement,” she said. “It’s not going to work. It’s not how much you make. It’s how well you do with what you have.”

Weathersby emphasized that no matter how much money people make, it is always crucial to save money in a savings account.

“You could make tens of millions of dollars and go bankrupt like that,” she said. “That’s why it’s important to control spending habits.”

“The earlier you save the better,” she added.

Weathersby said the earlier people pay off expenses such as automobiles, homes and medical insurance the better.

“One bad illness or accident can bankrupt you as well,” she said. “That’s where a budget comes in. It’s a money plan, a money blueprint. It builds the financial house that you want to live in. And unfortunately some people have a shack or a tent.”

Understanding the cost of credit and knowing the difference between an investment and expense was a focal point that Weathersby pointed out.

“I wish I knew this when I was growing up. The cost of credit basically revolves every time you swipe your card,” she said. “You are renting your money, and every expense every month adds up.

“I’m an investor. I’m not a spender. Every investor knows they will get a rate of return back from their investment.”

Weathersby said students should pay attention to spending habits, keeping a checkbook register and knowing where their money is at all times.

“Create the habit of knowing where you’re spending and how you’re spending,” she said. “Keep a journal and write what you spend and you will see what kind of spending habits you have on certain expenses.”

For more information, contact Weathersby at 210-486-1407 or email mweathersby1@alamo.edu.

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