Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

Guest post by Sarah Dunbar ’16

My favorite thing about campus is walking through the park blocks during autumn. Seeing the colorful leaves falling to the ground, feeling the crisp air flowing through the jacket I thought was going to be warm enough, and the ever lingering question of whether I have time to stop and grab coffee before class. That last question is often followed by another lingering thought – can I even afford coffee today?

With this being my last Fall term at Portland State I have begun thinking more about my future and where I will be one year from now. What kinds of things will I be doing, thinking about, worrying about one year from now as a working professional? The first thing that came to mind – my finances. Will I be making enough to start paying off my student loans? Will I be financially stable enough to fully support myself without any financial aid? These questions and fears have motivated me to be proactive and take the advice I wrote about in my last blog post.

With graduation around the corner I am making the commitment to prepare myself and my financial situation as much as possible for the post-college reality that awaits. I challenge you to do the same! Regardless of how far away you are from graduation it’s never too early to start preparing for the future.

Over the next seven months I will:

Prepare and stick to a monthly budget (that incorporates a savings plan)

Build my emergency fund (as a component of savings on my budget)

Develop my student loan payment plan

Put my first $250 savings into an investment vehicle

Sarah's $5 ChallengeTo add some fun to this personal finance journey, I am committing to the $5 challenge. Every time I find myself with a $5 bill I am going to save it. This collection of $5 bills will be the foundation for my investment fund. I’ll post updates in my future blog posts and on Instagram.

This is my challenge for myself, but I encourage everyone to start at least one financially beneficial habit that will challenge you!

Follow my journey on this Blog and tag us @pdxBschool on Instagram to share your journey.

If I have learned anything from my time with the School of Business, it’s that there is no shortage of resources available to us as students. In order to jumpstart this new challenge, I am committing to attending at least two of the events during Financial Literacy week. I hope to see many of you there!

~ Sarah Dunbar ’16, Fearless Senior

Photography by Portland Oregon Photographer Craig MItchelldyer www.craigmitchelldyer.com 503.513.0550Sarah Dunbar is a senior business student majoring in Accounting. She is a member of Beta Alpha Psi, the Accounting and Finance Honor Society and a Peer Advisor in the School of Business Undergraduate Office.


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A Letter to My High School Self

portrait 2Guest Post by Sydney Kim ’16

The following post is a letter of advice to my high school senior self from my current state as a senior in college. I was and still am a worrywart. I feared the dreaded freshman 15, failing all of my classes and that I would somehow get myself into situations where I’d make a complete fool of myself in front of my entire class. Thankfully, looking back, I can safely say that the good times have definitely outweighed the bad. This letter includes some advice that, in my opinion, has been crucial for that outcome to happen. My hope is that you, the reader, can also benefit from what I have gauged to be important takeaways from my life as a college student through reading this post. Enjoy.

Dear 17-year-old Sydney,

Congratulations! You’re almost done with high school, a milestone you ought to be proud of. This is 20-year-old “Almost-done-with-college Sydney” writing to you to give you some advice that will help you through the next phase of your life: 3 years of bittersweet college. Now, I could honestly go on and on about all the new things that you will experience (I know you know that I could), but I will instead condense all of my words of wisdom into five pieces of advice that will hopefully guide you along your way.

First, a simple yet important one: stop putting Hello Kitty decorations on everything you own. You may be thinking, “But Hello Kitty is so cute! I don’t want to stop putting Hello Kitty stickers on everything I own” or “What does a Japanese cartoon character even have to do with college?” so let me tell you this: first impressions are incredibly important. The Hello Kitty Silly Bandz that your crush gave you or your giant Hello Kitty phone case will make you seem a bit childish and unprofessional. No, I’m not telling you to stop wearing what you like. I’m telling you to be more mindful of how others may perceive you. First impressions can go a long way and not just in the professional world, but also as you try to make friends. Towards the end of college when Hello Kitty has already been long gone from your life, people almost double your age will actually tell you that you seem way older than you are, because of how you carry yourself. Isn’t that crazy?

Second, put yourself out there. You know how people used to think that your shy behavior was cute? How they thought it was just a phase in your childhood and that you would simply grow out of it once you grew up? Well, they were wrong. Very, very wrong. You’re going to be a shy, 18-year-old in college surrounded by people in their mid-to-late twenties, and it’s going to suck. You’ll eventually try really hard and force yourself to be outgoing. It’s going to take you two whole years to actually join a school club. And, let me just tell you that it’s going to feel awesome. For the first time in your life, you will feel like you actually know where you’re going and that you have some control over it. You’re going to wish that you started sooner.

Third, while you’re trying to be more outgoing, make friends with people that make you want to be better. They don’t have to be some business mogul to inspire you. You’re going to meet a lot of students that juggle a full-time job along with taking 16 credits of classes, and raising children on top of all that at Portland State. These are the kinds of people that will never cease to amaze you. At the end of sophomore year, you will end up joining a program at school dedicated to leadership and you will meet the kindest, most sympathetic faculty member along with a whole room full of people with heart wrenching backgrounds yet brave faces. These are the people that you should become close with. The people that try and struggle in the face of adversities. They will keep you grounded and honest.

Also, remember to strive to be okay with being wrong. I know you love being right. Even as a child, you forced Mom and Dad to pretend play as students while you acted as their bossy-pants teacher. You loved telling them that they were wrong (which wasn’t true) and showing them the “right” way to solve 14 x 32. Unknowingly, that attitude has remained embedded in you. I like to think of it as a character “quirk.” You’re a little hot-headed and a bit stubborn. However, you have to learn to be the student in certain situations. If you never allow yourself to be wrong, you’re inevitably going to close yourself off to knowledge and that’s not really the point of college, now is it?

Lastly, since you’re probably tired from all of the reading you’ve been doing, a simple one: develop a firm handshake. Handshakes are meant to be a display of confidence, not an imitation of a dead fish, which yours currently feels like. Keep practicing and working on it until you finally have one that says, “I’m Sydney Kim and you’re not going to regret meeting me.” I know that you have it in you. Just keep trying and don’t give up.

Sydney, I know you’re confused and lost right now. Just know that it’s okay. Many people at your age and position also feel the same way. I know that this letter won’t make all of those insecurities go away, but just know that being scared and lost is a stepping stone towards becoming a more confident and wholesome person, leader, student, family member, and all of the other roles out there that you could possibly think of. I love you. Please keep these tips in mind and hold your chin up.



~Sydney Kim ’16, Fearless Business Senior

Financial Literacy Week

Financial-Literacy-Week_round“It’s just one salted caramel mocha,” you justify to yourself as you buy your fourth salted caramel mocha this week. “It’s just one season of the year,” you again argue the next week, having bought one before class every day. After class you grab lunch as you run to catch the MAX back to your home without thinking about how much all of those salted caramel mochas add up to.

Dollar by dollar, your money slips away or your credit card bills increase ever so much. Student Loans add stress, and managing it is too much to think about until you get your first call reminding you to make a credit card payment. So you ignore the number a few times until you cannot ignore it anymore and now what do you do?

The choices you make with your money today impact the way you can live your life in the future. From my own personal experience in college, and as an advisor at PSU’s School of Business I totally understand that money management is one of the biggest challenges college students face today and I want to support growth of strong financial literacy.

During the week of November 13th through 19th, there will be nine events on different money matters.

On Friday the 13th, join us while accounting professor Joleen Kremin leads a Fearless Friday session on how to plan your dreams and balance your lifestyle with the money your dream pays.

On Monday, November 16th at noon, join Financial Aid Assistant Director Heather Mattioli in SBA 690 for an analysis of student loans specifically for Business students, as well as tips on how to plan ahead for your post-graduation payments.

In the afternoon of November 16th, we have Martin Kennedy, a CPA with the Oregon Society of CPA’s sharing information on how to develop a budget and manage your finances. Martin will be presenting from 4-5pm in SBA 690.

On Tuesday, November 17th, faculty Andrew Adeboi will be presenting on how to manage your relationship with money at noon in SBA 690. Andrew is teaching at Portland State after working in the banking industry for a couple of decades, so this is sure to be a popular session.

On Wednesday, November 18th, or Debt Day as we’re calling it during Financial Literacy Week, you can learn about Managing Debt Accumulation with Courtney Ranstrom at noon in SBA 690

Later on November 18th, learn how to manage your credit card debt with Kari Paterson, CPA, at 4pm in SBA 590.

If free money is your kind of thing, come to SBA 170 at noon on Thursday, November 19th, where one of the School of Business Peer Advisors will be leading a session on how to be a successful applicant for SBA Scholarships.

Later on November 19th is our final session, presented by Josh Harwood at 4-5:30pm on Understanding Credit and Borrowing Money.

All of these events will earn you a stamp on your Passport to Employment Success, so even attending a few of them gets you the five stars you need to enter the raffle!

We look forward to seeing you at Financial Literacy Week!

IMG_2399IMG_2399Nathanial Garrod is the First Year Programs Advisor at PSU’s School of Business. For more information on each of these individual events, please check out the School of Business Events page, or email Nathanial at ngarrod@pdx.edu.