Most college students don’t plan long term when it comes to finances, if they’re planning at all. As a matter of fact, most students could be considered financially illiterate.

That’s why, each year since 2010, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Financial Literacy Program sponsors UH Saves Day. The goal of the event is to teach students financial literacy and encourage them to start saving now, even if it is just to get into the habit.

“People don’t understand finances, especially personal finances,” said Rosita Chang, a professor at the UH Mānoa Shidler College of Business. “It is very important that people really recognize that savings is really a part of life, not just spending.”

Local financial institutions, government agencies and various UH and community organizations set up informational booths with fun and interactive activities. The focus was on financial responsibility and awareness and students received advice on everything from budgeting to managing credit card debt.

“This lady told me that I should save five percent of each of my paychecks so I’m not in debt like she was,” said UH Mānoa student Ariana Ursua. “And I could save money for a house before I am 30.”

The event also included The LifeSmarts Challenge, a game show where four teams made up of two students each compete to win a $500 scholarship for each team member. The overriding message of UH Saves Day did get through to many of the students.

“A lot of students feel like they’re broke and don’t have a lot of money to save,” said Christopher Saki, UH Mānoa student. “The power of a dollar that you save when you’re young is so much more than if you wait till you’re 30 or 40 to start saving money.”

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