On Thursday, April 18, 2019, over 40 Carls attended a personal finance workshop led by Isaiah Goodman, the Chief Financial Advocate at the Minneapolis-based financial advising firm Becoming Financial. The workshop was the brainchild of Carleton Student Association (CSA) Representative Cole DiIanni ‘21, who received funding from CSA to bring Goodman to Carleton and the Career Center to provide food.
DiIanni was inspired after hearing of a high school friend’s accredited “life skills” class, in which students learned about insurance, taxes, credit and investing.
“I realized Carleton doesn’t offer anything like that. At least, there’s nothing offered to every student consistently. Certain offices like TRIO offer it to TRIO students, but there’s nothing offered to the entire campus, which this information applies to,” DiIanni said.
During winter term, DiIanni sent a survey to the student body to gauge interest and identify specific topics to cover. He then talked with the Economics department in hopes of creating a class, but was unable to do so due to logistical challenges.
“That’s what a lot of students said with the survey: that they would like for this to be an accredited class,” he said. “The department is not really on board at this time. There would be a lot of administrative challenges, and they’re going through faculty hiring, so they have enough on their plate.”
Instead, DiIanni shifted his attention to bringing a speaker to campus. Fellow CSA Representative Baustin Shaw ‘19 recommended Goodman, who has also spoken at the University of Minnesota and St. Thomas University. DiIanni limited the talk to two hours to make it accessible to the whole student body.
“We’ve had things like a Pillars of Finance event, but it was really intensive and not for your everyday student,” he explained. “It was eight hours, so Economics majors might go to that; everyday people are probably going to stay away.”
Over 40 students—with all class years represented—ultimately attended the session, in which Goodman touched upon budgeting strategies and an introduction to investing.
“Nobody ever taught us about how budgeting and investing stuff works,” said Goodman, after the workshop. “Even if our parents did a good job of it, rarely did they say, ‘sit down, here’s how it’s done.’ When we get to schools—even if it’s a very good school like Carleton—there are very few programs that address this.”
His message seemed to resonate with the workshop’s attendees.
“I know TRIO puts on tax workshops, and I’ve gone to some of those,” said James Gardner ‘21. “I wished they would expand that to more people. We need to learn more than academic skills. We need to learn practical skills—like how to survive the world.”
“I think it should be a graduation requirement,” said Kwaku Bodom ‘19. “All my four years, this has been the first thing I’ve seen, so Carleton is doing it the right way.”
RJ Holmes-Leopold, the Career Center Director, noted that Carleton has in fact hosted personal budgeting workshops prior to this one.
“For example, in Spring 2018, the Career Center partnered with Lutheran Social Services to offer a personal finance and budgeting for people in their 20s,” Holmes-Leopold said. “We will continue partnering with other organizations to sponsors workshops like this in the future, among other post-college topics, to help Carls be prepared for life beyond college.
“Students can, of course, meet one-on-one with career counselors at any time to prepare more concretely with specific personal finance and budget items.”
On his part, DiIanni sees Goodman’s workshop as a success and is planning for Goodman to return to Carleton in the fall.
“Now, people know who [Goodman] is, and they know that he’s good,” DiIanni said. “Hopefully, by word-of-mouth, we can get more people in the door.”