Welcome to the first edition of Let's Talk About Money, where we ask real college students about their relationship with money.
Cornell senior Matt K. doesn’t work on Wall Street and he’s not a finance major. Money wasn’t a super common topic of conversation growing up, but that hasn’t stopped him from being pretty knowledgeable when it comes to money.
“My parents taught me what stocks were, but I think one of the most important values they instilled in me was that if you live frugally, you’ll be able to splurge on what actually matters - things like travel and good food.”
Matt comes from an upper middle class background, and is lucky enough to have some help from his parents as he makes his way through college. “They help with rent and some other basic living expenses,” he told me. For other day to day expenses, like going out for meals with friends, Matt relies on his own money.
"A Chipotle burrito costs me about an hour and a half of working at the library, and that really helps put things into perspective.”
“I work at the library on campus. It’s a solid gig, but it only pays minimum wage so I still have to be very wary of how much I’m spending. A lot of times I’ll think of spending in terms of how many hours I work. A Chipotle burrito costs me about an hour and a half of working at the library, and that really helps put things into perspective.”
Matt’s college experience has also highlighted the importance of finding a summer internship. Last summer, he worked for EY-Parthenon, a global consulting firm. He lived at home and earned a solid salary, most of which he put towards investing and saving. Some of that money has helped support him through his final year of college, but he has worked hard not to let the extra cash get the best of him.
He spoke a little about how some of his coworkers over the summer wanted to go out for meals and drinks on a regular basis since they were making such solid salaries. “It can be hard to stay disciplined when you have access to more money than you’re used to,” Matt explained. “For example. I’m trying to spend less money on clothes, but at the same time I have more money to spend, so I want to take advantage of it. It can be hard to strike a balance.”
It’s a remarkably common predicament, but Matt does a solid job of keeping perspective. “I still buy stuff, but I try to think more about my purchases. Sometimes I’ll add stuff to my cart and come back to it a couple weeks later. If I still want it, I’ll make the purchase.”
Matt is a curious and thoughtful guy, and it shows in his approach to personal finance. He recently made the decision to get his first credit card.
“I was compelled to get a credit card because everyone else had one. I realized that if I’m spending money, I may as well be rewarded for it and get the protections that come with a credit card,” Matt explained to me.
However, Matt was still a little skittish. “I’m excited about the cashback, the consumer protections, and building my credit score. But I was raised to think that having debt is bad. I remember doing a project in high school about credit cards and I got freaked out. What if I forget to pay things off and ruin my credit?”
We both remarked on how common a sentiment this was. So common, in fact, that it led to the creation of Fizz, the debit card for college students that builds credit. “I decide to make payments as soon as my purchases post,” Matt told me. This is a common and effective practice among many new credit card users, and it’s something that a Fizz card will do for you automatically. (Interested? Sign up here).
It’s clear that Matt knows what he’s talking about when it comes to money, but he’s not willing to sing his own praises just yet. “I’m lucky to have been raised by parents who taught me about finances, and even then, there’s still so much I don’t know.” However, he offered some great advice about the state of financial education among his peers.
“It’s important to be thankful and not lose sight of the big picture. Many of us are in a position to be able to think existentially about money, and that’s a blessing even if you’re a strict budgeter. There are always new things to be learned.”
It’s always easy to get caught up in what you don’t know, but the reality is that no matter who you are, personal finance isn’t as complex as it might seem. There are countless resources out there that are designed to help you learn. Fizz is one such company. In fact, we designed Fizz not just to make your finances easier, but also to keep you educated on important personal finance topics.
Matt left me with some great perspective. “I try to always spread the love and the knowledge. It’s a privilege to be where I am with the know-how that I have. Everyone deserves to know how a Roth IRA works, how to use a credit card, and how interest compounds. If you can share that information, you’re doing the world a huge service.”
Matt did a great job conveying some of the most important points about the world of personal finance. He might seem like an expert to most, but he views himself as someone that still has plenty to learn. At Fizz, we believe that we all have plenty to learn, and we’re excited to help share information for all levels of knowledge. We’re grateful and excited for people like Matt and everyone that’s chosen to #joinfizz, and we can’t wait to keep growing. Together, we can help change the world of personal finance for generations to come.
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Our one-on-one with Matt K is the first of many interviews in Fizz’s Let’s Talk About Money series. Give us a follow on social media to stay up to date with the latest content and perspectives that will help you work towards financial freedom in college and beyond. Know someone who provides a unique perspective on money and credit during college? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!