New Year, New You: Finance

Texas Tech financial experts weigh in on resolutions for 2014.

Personal Finances & Credit

Chris Browning,
Assistant professor in the Department of Personal Financial Planning



  • Learn how to set financial goals: These goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Specific means that you should identify the motivation for the goal, make it personal. Measurable means that a dollar value should be tied to the goal. Achievable means that it is something you can accomplish. Don’t shoot for the stars right out of the gate. Set moderate goals you can accomplish and create some momentum. Realistic means that you are likely to achieve the goal. There are a lot of goals that are achievable, but not realistic. For a goal to realistic it has to motivated by something that is personally important. Timely means that the goal needs to be tied to a timeline. This helps you monitor your progress as you move towards completing the goal. While goal setting seems simple, this is a step that is overlooked by many, causing people to get stuck in a financial rut.
  • Become a planned saver: While you are in school it is more about developing the habit of saving than stashing large amounts of money. Whatever you can save make sure it is part of your plan, pay yourself first, and repeat. If you create the habit now it is more likely to stay a part of your plan as your resources increase.
  • Make positive steps towards building your credit: One of the best ways to build credit as a student is with a credit card. With that being said, if used inappropriately credits cards can also be a good way to damage your credit. The two main factors impacting your credit score are payment history and outstanding balances. So, if you are going to use a credit card to build credit always pay on time and keep your balances low. Because credit scores will impact your ability to be financially successful in the future (may impact your ability to get a job, buy a car, buy a house, insurance rates, etc.) it is important to learn to use credit to your benefit. Some tips for success:
    • Make sure that that limit on your credit card is low. Just because you get approved for a certain amount of credit doesn’t mean you can afford that much credit. You can always call your credit card company and have them lower your limit. A good rule of thumb for those starting out with credit cards is to have a limit no more than what they have in their saved reserves. For example if you have $500 dollars set aside for emergencies then you can set your credit limit to $500 dollars. This ensures that you can always pay your credit card balance in full, even if it’s maxed out.
    • Limit your monthly transactions to a small amount and pay the card off in full every month. This shows that you can use credit responsibly; again the two biggest determinants of score are payment history and outstanding balances. If you are paying on time and keeping your card paid off your credit score will benefit.
    • Set up auto payments. This ensures that you will never miss or be late on a payment.

Angela Mazzolini,
Program Director, Red to Black



  • Get a clear picture of where you are financially: How much money is coming into your account each month? How much is going out? If you don’t know exact numbers, it’s time to do some tracking. Tracking can be as simple as using a pencil and paper or become as complicated as you choose to make it. Many people who are fond of using their smartphones might enjoy a tracking app, such as Once you know how much you are spending each month, you can make some adjustments if you are over spending.
  • Understand your credit: Pull your credit report and verify the information. Everyone is entitled to one free credit report from each of the three main credit reporting bureaus each year. You can pull them all at once or you can pull one every 3 months from a different bureau. is the ONLY authorized source for your free credit report. Once you have your credit report, you can make sure all the accounts listed belong to you and are the correct balances. If you find a mistake, follow the directions on the credit reporting bureaus website to launch an investigation. If you need assistance reading your credit report, consider reaching out to a professional. Texas Tech students can contact Red to Black for help with their credit reports. Red to Black and TG will be co-hosting a free credit report review day on March 31st in the TLPDC. More information will be available on the Red to Black website at

Entrepreneurship & Business Success

Michael R. Ryan,
Associate Professor of Practice in Management and
Executive Director, Center for Entrepreneurship and Family Business



  • It is not a closed club: Entrepreneurship crosses the full spectrum of domains.  There are entrepreneurs that practice their craft in every field that is studied at Texas Tech. It is also a discipline that can be taught and learned. While business practices need to emerge to support the entrepreneur, they also can be learned or secured after the initial product or service has been created. That being said, it is still critical that good business practices be employed to sustain the newly developed entity.
  • Find out what the customers want: Something that cannot be emphasized enough; you are not an entrepreneur until a transaction occurs. Creating a product or service might make you an inventor. Until someone is willing to exchange his or her money for what you created, you are not an entrepreneur. Creativity is important and with practice can be developed further. If the creation does not meet a need (or create a perceived need) that encourages others to part with their hard earned money, you will not be an entrepreneur. There are few shortcuts.  The most successful entrepreneurs do their homework exploring the potential market and devising a sound business plan to exploit that potential.
  • Less is often more: Very few entrepreneurs hit home runs. Most simply aim to get on base. The mark of good entrepreneurs is that they identify a need and fill that need. Initially, they keep it simple. If you bring a good product to market and the customers embrace it, you will have ample time in the future to develop upgrades and additional features. If you try to address every conceivable nuance and feature, you may never get out of the starting gate. Consider the examples in the electronics industry; upgrades and additional features are seen as possibilities for future product development.
  • The bottom line is, if you can discover a need, verify that the public will see the value and purchase your product, and stay focused on the goal you will have the potential to be a successful entrepreneur.
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Undergraduate and graduate degree programs in personal financial planning are registered by the CFP Board. Students graduating from a CFP Board-Registered Program are eligible to sit for the CFP® Certification Examination.

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Jun 24, 2022