Foundations of Financial Literacy: A Beginner’s Guide for STEM Students

Author: Gregory Bertly Josefano (BE ‘20) 

The world does not revolve around one discipline. Being multidisciplinary will enable you to learn from different places, elevating your skill sets beyond life sciences. 

 

One of these essential skills is financial literacy, allowing people to manage their money effectively, make informed decisions, and plan for the future. Basic financial literacy comprises two core principles which are budgeting and savings. Whether you’re just starting your journey into the world of finance or looking to refresh your knowledge, understanding the rudimentary principles is crucial.

 

Budgeting:

In essence, budgeting is all about tracking and managing your income and expenses. The main goal of budgeting is to allocate your money towards essential needs, savings, and discretionary spending. Here is how you can start:


  • Track your income and expenses: Begin by documenting all sources of income and categorizing your expenses. This could include rent, utilities, groceries, meals, transportation, entertainment, and savings.
  • Set financial goals: This can include both long-term and short-term goals, such as retirement funds and saving for a certain expense (e.g. new phone!).
  • Create a budget: Allocate your income towards various expense categories based on your own priorities and financial goals. Try to spend less than you earn and adjust your budget when needed.

 

Savings:

Saving money is a crucial part of building financial security and achieving any of your financial goals. To achieve this try the following strategies:


  • Emergency Fund: Start by setting aside money for unexpected expenses. Aim to save enough to cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses.
  • Pay yourself first: Prioritize saving by allocating a portion of your income towards savings before paying for other expenses.

 

But most importantly…

  1. If you have any debts, avoid accumulating More Debt. Be mindful of taking on new debt and strive to live within your means.

 

Remember, financial literacy is a lifelong journey (and friend!). By mastering these finance basics, you will be able to work toward your financial goals. achieve financial stability, and build a brighter future, whether that be when you are living alone, traveling or studying abroad, or building your career.  




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