Stop spending money you don’t have (to spend) to impress people you don’t know or like,” said Suze Orman, the television host of her own financial consulting show, to a crowd of CSUN students, faculty and fans at the University Student Union March 9.
College students do not understand the real value of money and therefore get themselves into financial trouble like credit card debt. Orman said credit card debt will end up hurting the audience in the future when they purchase a vehicle, rent an apartment or buy a home.
Having credit card debt and not being able to make the payments on time will hurt the student’s Fair Issac Company (FICO) score that ranges anywhere from 300-850, 850 being the best score possible, she added. The higher the score is, the lower interest rate the individual will get on loans.
“The most important score in your life is your FICO score,” Orman said when she explained the importance of being responsible for your credit card debt.
Orman suggested the crowd go over to Wells Fargo Bank, a sponsor of the event, and sign up to get the three free FICO credit reports for free for the first month. She also added, “You should cancel before the month expires, because they will charge you $10 after the first month.”
Orman also pushed the importance of consolidating student loans before July 1, due to the fact that interest rates on students’ loans are due to increase then. The Federal Stafford Loan, which now has a 4.7 percent interest rate, will rise to 6.8 percent, and a Federal PLUS loan for undergraduate students will rise from 6.1 percent to an 8.5 percent interest rate, she said.
Orman offered a solution to this obstacle, saying, “You can consolidate your student loans while you are in school to lock in the current interest rate and then put it in deferment.”
Tamika Brand, who attended the book signing, asked Orman during the question- and-answer segment, whether or not to claim bankruptcy after a former friend left her in a financial mess. She co-signed for him on a car loan and the friend then failed to make the monthly car payments on the loan.
Brand was standing while asking her question and Orman asked her in the presence of the crod whether she was still with him. Brand was embarrassed by the question and later said during an interview that the gentleman was just a friend and nothing more.
Orman’s advice to Brand, however, was not to file for bankruptcy, because it would hurt her FICO score and it would end up costing more in the long run.
“Just be responsible to your debt and pay the loan off,” Orman told her.
“I only co-signed for him because he placed a $10,000 down payment on the $20,000 Lincoln Navigator, so I figured he would make the payments, because he invested that large amount of money,” Brand said.
Orman used Brand as an example and implored the audience to never co-sign for any type of loan, regardless of who the individual is.
The event was sponsored by the University Student Union and Student Affairs and funded by CSUN A.S. fees, in an effort by both entities to shed some light on money management for students.
Carole Desgroppes-Brown, program coordinator for the USU, said, “We wanted to bring her (Orman) here to give students great financial tips and to set themselves for financial success.”
Brown expected the San Fernando room in the USU to be filled with 600 individuals for the event. However, the official count was only around 200 people.
“I think when it comes to talking about money, students think it is going to be a boring talk or that someone is selling them something,” Orman said. “It was our fault that they did not show up. What did the school do to educate them in order for the students to be here?”
According to her website, Suze Orman is 55 years old and is a certified financial planner professional and host of her own television show.
Before Orman was rolling in the dough, she told the crowd she was working as a waitress making only $400 a month until the age of 30.
Some of the individuals who attended the event were fans of her show.
“I am here to see Suze because my dad is a huge fan and we always watch her on television,” said Lilibeth Zapata, freshman communication major.
No matter what reason individuals were there to hear Orman’s speech, people gained a little bit of financial knowledge.
“I did not know that I had three FICO scores, so I am definitely going to look into that,” said Susie Rojas, senior finance major.