"I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work." - Auburn Creed, George Petrie
The first line of the Auburn Creed, Auburn's beloved doctrine that unites Auburn students faculty and alumni, gives future Auburn students a glimpse of the well-rounded education they will receive during their time at Auburn University.
Whether attending college to study engineering, education, apparel design or any other major offered, most students hope that no matter what field of study they choose, a college degree will provide them with a sense of financial security.
Auburn University Consumer and Design Sciences (CADS) students know that sense of security begins far before their intended graduation date. The apparel design curriculum at Auburn provides opportunities through professional CADS electives for students to learn about the importance of saving for retirement as soon as possible and that graduating with money in the bank puts them in a good position for the future.
Alexa Womack, an apparel design student and junior at Auburn University, is enrolled in the CADS course titled Gender, Wealth and Philanthropy. The course is taught by professor and lawyer Anna Funderburk Buckner.
According to Womack, every college student should take the course. She said that it is the one course that has made her think about her future seriously and what kind of situation she wants to be in financially.
"This class has shown me the importance of understanding my spending habits. It's made me start thinking about how to begin aggressively saving for things like retirement right now," Womack said.
The course utilizes many techniques to engage students with their finances. Students are encouraged to track their spending down to every penny for one month.
"You begin to see patterns in the way you spend your money," Womack said. "It can make you rethink that $4 cup of coffee you buy from the coffee shop everyday and instead decide to invest in making your own coffee at home. Even when it comes to toilet paper and toothpaste: are brands like Charmin and Crest worth the extra cash on a college budget?"
Students also work to evaluate their debt and are encouraged to inquire about benefit packages from future employers.
"When I search for jobs now, my focus isn't just on what salary will be offered, but also what kind of retirement options are available. Does the company provide me with a company car or cell phone? Do they pay for transportation? What kind of insurance might I be provided with? I want to be fully informed on what I'll be receiving to make sure I can make ends meet and avoid debt," Womack said.
Students enrolled in Gender, Wealth and Philanthropy also have opportunities to attend events to hear from entrepreneurs. At these events, business owners give personal accounts of their successes and failures.
At a recent luncheon Womack attended to hear from female business owners, she said her biggest take-away wasn't how she could earn millions.
"We heard from one woman," Womack said, "who had completely failed at one point in her career. She lost everything due to poor circumstances. But what she learned was that her success wasn't defined by how much money she made. She ended up changing her plans completely and found her true happiness was in giving back to others."
Womack said she hopes to one day own her own nonprofit organization that provides women in underdeveloped nations an opportunity to learn skills that help provide them with a way to earn a sustainable income.
She said she understands how much her decisions now can affect her future. According to her, she hopes to save $10,000 by the time she graduates Auburn so she will be able to pursue her future endeavors with ease.
"I know it seems like a huge amount of money," she said, "but if I have no goal then I won't have anything to work toward."
Image 1, top right: provided by Alexa Womack
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