Earnings Later, Depend on Learning Now

Quarantine gives us all the perfect opportunity to learn new skills and use this abundance of free time to expand our certifications. It is unlikely you will find yourself in a situation like this again in the near future, (we all certainly hope) so take advantage of your time now and boost your earnings later.\

Earnings down the road will depend on your certifications and ability to understand programs and learn them quickly. Employers within your respective field will expect you to be trained in all of the software and programing that is required to either do your job or move up within a company. Indeed lists the top 8 common skills that employers look for when screening new hires.

  • Analytics
  • Social media
  • Graphic design
  • Microsoft Office
  • Spreadsheets
  • Email communication
  • Marketing automation
  • Data visualization

There are many other courses available online, some are free and some have course fees. Before paying for a course make sure it is a specific certification you are going to need in your career. Be sure to look for fee waivers before paying for a course. If you find a course not listed here that is free and reputable jump on it! The more certifications you can add to your resume the better.

The links in this blog have only scratched the surface of what is available online. If there is one specific topic you feel the need to dive into further a few google searches and a little digging will reveal a lot more resources.

Analytics: Want to brush up on your analytics? Start by trying this Google Analytics course for free! https://alison.com/course/google-analytics—383

Social Media: These days this can be a fairly broad and complex topic. So I have added a website with a list of ten different social media oriented courses. https://www.diygenius.com/10-free-online-courses-in-social-media-and-inbound-marketing/

Graphic Design: Another topic that ranges across the spectrum of courses and ways to use designer software. If you can not find a specific course for free, remember Youtube is your friend. There is no lack of graphic design tutorials on Youtube for free. https://www.format.com/magazine/resources/design/free-online-graphic-design-courses

Microsoft Office: Whether its Word, Excel, Powerpoint or others you will need to know how to use these tools in any job. Here is a website to learn each piece of Microsoft Office. https://www.skillshare.com/browse/microsoft-office

Spreadsheets: Probably the most common spreadsheet program used is Microsoft Excel. Use the link in the line above to get started with Excel Spreadsheets.

Email Communication: Emails can be tricky and understanding how to look professional is important in any company setting. This link will give you access to an email writing course that will have your emails at their peak performance.

Marketing automation: If marketing is in your plans for the future check out the resources on this link to grow you knowledge and do a deeper dive into the topic


Data Visualization: Being able to look at a list of numbers and draw conclusions about the real world is a fantastic skill for anyone to have. Start here to begin improving your skills. https://www.edx.org/learn/data-visualization

How to buy a house

Buying a house in 2019 can be extremely daunting for someone our age.  No matter how much research you do, you’re still going to have some “I didn’t know that” moments.  With any luck, this will help make those a little less common.

Get Pre-Approved

Sure, it would be great if you could roll up to the seller and hand them a fat stack for the house, but I’m guessing since you’re reading the UMF financial literacy blog, that may not be an option.  Getting pre-approved for a home loan will build confidence in the seller, and give you an idea of what you can afford to buy.

Credit Score

Keeping track of your credit will greatly impact your chances at buying a home later in life.  A credit score at 620 is the lowest your score should be if you expect to receive a loan from a lender.  A score above 680 is ideal.

There are many factors to your credit score, including past loans, student loans, and credit card payments.  Making routine payments on loans makes up 35% of your score.  The amount you owe and who you owe it to makes up 30% of your credit rating.  Length of credit history makes up another 15%, with new credit and types of credit both accounting for 10%.

Interest Rates

Interest rates, market volatility, what does it all mean?  Volatility is, in layman’s terms, the possibility for an asset’s price to swing (like the price of a house being $500,000 one year and $300,000 the next).  The housing market in general is not particularly volatile. Interest rates impact the amount you’ll owe completely once your loan is paid off.  A mortgage with a high interest rate means you’ll owe more per month than one with a lower one.

How Much Should I Put Down?

Everyone’s heard that you need to put down 20% on a house, but the fact is, many people are buying houses with 3-5% down.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t put down as much as possible, 20% down will absolutely help your chances at getting the property.

How Long Does it Take?

You’re looking at a couple months from start to finish.  Getting the sale done quickly has become more and more important over the years, and so being ready with a loan prepared and down payment in hand will help significantly in your chances.

The Moral?

Buying a home is a huge commitment, and no matter how far down the road it comes, it helps to prepare ASAP if that’s a goal of yours.


Written by Jake Leonard

Start Saving, Fools

Here at the FinLit office, we can’t stress the importance of saving enough.  That’s why I’m writing this article!  As we get toward the second half of the year, those summer savings may start to dry up, so it’s important to look at your options, and repetition is the best way to make sure you learn the ins and outs.

Choose the Right Savings Account:

            There are many different kinds of savings accounts.  UCU has nine different ones to choose from.  Make sure you get all the information about every different one before you choose, and never hesitate to ask the person helping you make the account what type would be right for you, that’s why they’re there. On top of basic savings accounts there are also IRAs and market accounts, which I talk about in a different post.

Recurring Investments:

            Set up recurring investments to your savings account.  Direct deposit can be especially helpful for this, as you can set a percentage of your check to go directly to savings, making it so you aren’t withdrawing from your bank every time you want to save. This step ensures that you don’t forget to make a savings deposit.  Keeping monthly deposits going keeps your account growing for the future.

Look for Ways to Save:

            The more ways you find to cut expenses and make more money, the more you’ll have available to save.  Visit our Instagram page @umf_finlit for tips on budgeting, saving, knowing your expenses, and more.


            Use a free savings calculator online to discover how much you’ll save in the long run.  These tools can be extremely helpful for calculating your savings later on in life, with increased payments, different APYs, and more.


-Jake Leonard

Most popular majors, and the money that goes with them

Hello y’all.  Since it’s close to graduation time (and also people are applying to come here and deciding on majors) I thought I’d take a minute to talk about the most popular majors at UMF, as well as the median salary of some different positions those majors can get you into, but first, a few parameters.

  1. This list includes the most common majors at UMF as of April 2019 (excluding education)
  2. This list will give the average salary of these positions, not guaranteeing a higher or lower salary that an applicant may receive

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get digging.  Besides education, the most common majors at UMF are community health, psychology, business (or related), rehab, math, and English[1].  Some of these options are more lucrative than others, especially considering the employment playing field at the time of graduation (for example, chances of getting hired in 2010-2012 were much less than now).


Psychology is the second most common major at UMF, and for good reason.  Along with helping people, the degree has high earning potential in the future.  Psychology is a quickly growing field, meaning the options for employment as well as business startup are plentiful.  As psychology is in the medical field, connections can also be made for furthering your career. Now about the money[2]:

  • Psychologists in general can expect to make a median salary of ~$72,000/year, nearly double the national average for all occupations.
  • Industrial organizational psychologists can expect to make ~$77,000/year, though this requires more specialized schooling.
  • In-hospital psychologists can expect to make upwards of $80,000/year.
  • Well-practiced psychologists who can land a government career can expect to make upward of $90,000+.
  • Coupled with good business sense (and credit), psychology can be an extremely profitable business if you have the ability to start a successful firm.  This major is also a great way to make sure your field is specialized because there are many different kinds of psychologist.


Community Health and Health Related:

Community health is the fifth most popular major here at UMF.  A degree in community health is a degree in helping the people around you.  Community health positions generally (not always) are found in rural or underprivileged areas where there may be limited resources.

  • As a community health major, you can expect to be making a salary around $38,000/year.  The top 25% of these positions make closer to $50,000, while the bottom 25% make closer to $31,000[3].
  • This major is a great way to get involved in your community and make a difference to the people around you, as you serve as an advocate for your neighbors and community.



Rehabilitation is the sixth most popular major at UMF.  Rehabilitation majors can expect to be working in rehab counselling and other services.  These majors mean making connections with people who are in need of help outside of what they can do for themselves, no matter how temporary.

  • Rehab careers include: Rehab counselling, rehab sciences, psychiatric rehab specialists, and sports rehab[4].
  • Rehab majors can generally expect to make somewhere between $35,000-$45,000/year.
  • Sports rehab can expect to make ~$50,000/year on average.
  • Much like with Psychology, government rehab jobs tend to pay better than working for a private company, between $55,000-$65,000/yr.
  • Those with good business sense have more options for starting their own firms and increasing profit.



Mathematics is the tenth most popular degree on campus.  Thanks to a bustling technology sector, the need for math majors is incredibly high, and the predicted mean salary is expected to increase substantially.  Math majors can expect to find careers in finance and accounting, banking, actuarial sectors, and statistics.

  • In general, a career in finance can earn you a median salary of between $60,000-$78,000/year[5].
  • Accountants who don’t own their own firm can expect to make ~$70,000/year, with the lowest paid accountants making $55,000 in 2017, and the top 25% making closer to $90,000/year[6].
  • Banking is fairly lucrative, with careers in banking averaging $30,000-$100,000+/year[7].
  • Actuarial mathematicians can expect to earn anywhere from around $90,000 to $110,000/year, with many making much more than that, and the median being ~$100,000/year[8].
  • Statisticians can expect to make around $85,000/year, with some of the highest paid in this field making upwards of $170,000/year[9].



    The English major[10], commonly thought of as having no options, actually has plentiful career opportunities.  Almost any career requires good reading and writing, as well as analytical skills. Positions in advertising, law, and public relations are very lucrative for English majors.

  • People in advertising management can expect to make close to $120,000/year with the top 10% making over $200k/year.
  • While English doesn’t seem like a great option if you want to be a lawyer, it actually can be very important for analyzing text and making an argument.  This field pays on average around $120,000/year, with the top 10% making more than $200k/year.
  • Public relations require being able to write easily readable and analyzed letters to the public or other firms, requiring a wealth of knowledge about people and how they read.  A good minor to pair this with would be anthropology. PR careers can expect to make around $100,000/yr.


So, what have we learned?

We’ve learned that no matter the major, there are career opportunities for you.  If you have further questions, contact the Financial Literacy department in Franklin 201 to make an appointment, or contact me directly at Jacob.leonard3@maine.edu. I hope this helps you figure out a little bit about your options and maybe helps you pick a major!


Edited by Sarah Hinman

Long Term Savings Part 3: Investing

Hello Friends,

This is part 3 of 3 in my Long Term Savings series and today I thought I’d talk a little bit about investing.  I got started investing two years ago because I thought it would be a fun way to maybe make some money and also save for retirement (as we all know, the earlier you start, the better off you’ll be).

Today we’ll talk about stocks, mutual funds and ETFs.

What is investing?

Investing is putting your money into something you believe will help it grow, whether it’s on the market or not.  You can invest in local businesses by putting money toward a startup in exchange for part ownership. In the same regard, when you put money into the stock market, you’re buying a portion of the company you put money into.

When the value of the company you buy into goes up, you make money, just as if the value goes down, you lose money.  This is where the difficult parts of trading (investing for profit) are.

If you don’t do enough research on a company and just buy it because it sounds cool or looks good, you risk losing big money.  This is why I’m going to talk about the big ways of investing.


Stocks are single shares of a company.  When you buy a stock, you buy one of a set number of shares put out to the public.  Companies like Apple and Amazon have millions or billions of what are called “shares outstanding,” the total amount of shares owned, and they’re very stable when you buy them, making them good choices for long term investing. Smaller companies may have less available shares.  Companies like Tilray may only have in the tens of millions (Apple has over 5 five billion).  This doesn’t mean they aren’t good investments, they may just be new to the game.

Outstanding shares also fluctuate regularly due to a number of variables like stock splits.  Usually companies that have more growth will split their stocks so that they are more affordable to regular non-supermillionaires.

Mutual Funds:

Mutual funds are a vehicle for investing made up of a pool of stocks, bonds, and other assets.  They are run by professional money managers like Vanguard. They work almost the same as stocks, in that when you buy them, you buy into the managing company and its assets, just like if you bought Apple stocks. The difference comes in what a mutual fund is made of.  Unlike a stock, a mutual fund (MF from here forward) is made up of money pooled by the public, and it’s used by the managing company to invest and make money, which produces growth within the managing company, resulting in profit for you.

MFs provide something which can be difficult for people to attain when only buying single stocks: diversification.  Diversification is important for a healthy investment portfolio, and here’s why:

Say you bought $6000 shares of a stock a year ago, and it’s doing really well.  All of a sudden, the company’s devices caught on fire. That company’s stock would plummet, and you’d be left with nothing in your portfolio, literally losing thousands of dollars.

Now say you put $1000 in that company, $1000 in a different company, and the remaining $4000 in a series of other companies.  Now when your original stock plummets, you’ve still got plenty of cushion while you wait to see if it can make a comeback. That’s one of the many benefits of a buying MFs, the added drawback being you don’t get to choose what the managing company invests in.


ETFs are exchange-traded funds.  They work similarly to a mutual fund, however they are traded in different ways.  ETFs are traded on the market like stocks. This is because ETFs own a series of underlying assets (gold, oil, currency, etc), they then divide those assets into shares which are then available for trade on the open market. Some of the benefits of ETFs are that there is no minimum purchase amount, meaning you can buy as little as one share.

This is the end!

I hope this series has helped some of you with a better understanding of long term savings options, and if you have any questions please stop by the office in Franklin 201 or contact our department on Instagram (@umf_finlit) and we can help you out!


Long Term Savings Part 2: 401k and retirement

Hey Y’all,

When last we spoke we had a wonderful conversation about IRAs and the benefits and disadvantages to them in relation to each-other.  Today I thought I’d take some time to talk about another savings option: the 401k.

What is it?

A 401k is a savings plan which is sponsored by an employer.  What this means is that instead of putting money into an individual account (like an IRA), you have a portion of your paycheck taken out and put into this account. The money taken out is not taxed, so it actually lowers the amount of taxes taken out of your paycheck because then your tax deductions are based on your total pay AFTER 401k contributions are taken out.

Much like a traditional IRA, taxes are taken out when you start making withdrawals.

The 401k is named for the section of tax code which covers it and replaced the pension plan for most companies in the 80s.  A 401k means you can control where your money is invested usually through a series of mutual funds.

What does it do for you?

Lots of things.  A 401k is a great way to save for retirement because unlike an IRA, in many cases you can get what’s called “employer matching,” which means your employer will match the amount of money you put in up to a certain point.  Remember, that employer match = FREE MONEY you are receiving that is building compound interest. Compound interest = MORE MONEY OVER TIME THAT GROWS UPON ITSELF.

As of 2018, you can put up to $18.5k/year into a 401k if you’re under age 50.

Are there downsides?

In many cases you are unable to access your employer contributions until a certain amount of time has passed (employers do this to make it so you can’t just take their money and leave).  There are also restrictions on when you can take money out and how much you can put in.

If you take money out before age 59 ½ you could face penalties.  Generally this will be the income tax of the payment you take out as well as a 10% fee on whatever was taken out, on top of state taxes, which is another good reason to have multiple different savings accounts for different purposes like financial hardships.

It’s best to think of this type of account as untouchable like a pension until retirement age, that way you can avoid feeling like it’s just another bank account.


If you leave your job, you have some options on what to do with your savings.  You may be allowed to temporarily keep your 401k with your former employer, giving you some leeway to decide, however you may be forced to do something immediately, and this is what may be available to you:

Company rollover:  You may have the option to transfer your 401k to your new place of employment.  This means you may be able to keep all your investments in one place, keeping you from having to find new ones, and also you may have more benefits with your new employers plans that you can take advantage of.

Put it in a traditional IRA:  Move your money into an IRA and let it keep growing.

Put it in a Roth IRA:  See above.

Cash distribution:  Take all the money out at once and decide what to do from there.  Maybe not the greatest option because you will most likely have to pay a 20% withdrawal fee plus other taxes and fees.

What does this mean for you?

It means you have more savings options, yay!  A 401k is a great way to save in the long term, and you should remember to put the maximum (if you can) amount in with employer matching.  This can help you build big savings early on and keep it growing.

What’s next?

Next time I’ll be talking about investment: what it is, how to do it, and some of the fancy wording that goes along with it.

I hope this helps you figure out a little more about saving for your future!


Edited by Sarah Hinman



Long Term Savings: Part 1

Hello fellow students,

I thought I’d take some time over the next week or so to talk about long-term saving and investing so you can get your future started now.  In these posts I’ll cover some of the basics of investing, stock options, and various savings accounts. Buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

The first thing we’ll cover are individual savings account options: The IRA and the Roth IRA.  First some basics:

  1. IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account
  2. The type of IRA you choose can have a significant impact on you and your future family’s savings


Anybody who is under the age of 70 (and a half) is eligible to put money in a traditional IRA.  There are a couple variables which decide whether your contribution is tax deductible, like income and your spouse’s retirement plan.

Roth IRA’s have no age restrictions, however they do have income restrictions.  As of 2019, single tax filers must be earning less than $137k to be eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA, and married couples must have modified AGIs (Adjusted Gross Incomes) of less than $203k to contribute to a Roth IRA.

Tax Incentives:

Both types of IRA provide tax breaks.  Traditional IRAs are tax deductible on contributions for both state and federal taxes, however withdrawals are taxed at regular income tax rate (find the tax bracket you’re in here).  Roth IRAs have no tax break for contributions, however they aren’t taxed on withdrawal, as the money you put in is taxed as regular income.

With both accounts, you pay no taxes on the growth of the money makes while inside the IRA/Roth IRA.

Rules of Withdrawals:

Traditional IRAs require you to start taking “minimum distributions” at age 70.5, whereas Roth IRAs don’t require you to withdraw at all during your lifetime, meaning that if you can afford not to take out the money, you can pass on your savings in the Roth IRA as a transfer of wealth to you family.

The beneficiaries of your Roth IRA are not required to pay taxes on growth or withdrawals because you paid taxes on the contributions.  They may still be required to take what are known as “estate taxes,” which I’ll cover in another post.

So how do you decide?

The ultimate decider should be your perceived future income, that is, what tax bracket do you think you’ll be in when you start taking money out?  Will you pay more on income taxes in the future or right now? If you think you’ll pay the least taxes right now, it may be beneficial for you to take out a Roth IRA, however if you think taxes will go down or your tax bracket will drop, a traditional IRA may be the better option.

So What’s up Next?

Next post will be covering the 401k, and after that we’ll dive a little bit into investing options.  Until then, I hope this helps you figure out what type of IRA will help you most in the future.



6 Tips for Making a Living In Outdoor Recreation

One of the common questions students of the Outdoor Recreation Business Administration degree program are trying to figure out while they are in college at UMF is: how am I going to combine my passion for a specific outdoor recreation industry with the ability to making a living and afford my needs and wants? We have put together a short list of tips and tricks to help the person who is pursuing a career in the recreation/tourism/service sector answer this very question, and to help with their overall financial fitness!


  1. Taking advantage of the perks associated with a job in the recreation/tourism/service sector. Oftentimes, you’ll receive retail and restaurant discounts associated with the business/resort you work for. A common perk for the ski industry is receiving a free season pass for work at a resort.
  2. Budgeting for a seasonal career can be tough. Try saving a % of your paycheck rather than a specific amount, know your slow months of your industry so you can plan accordingly, and have side hustle opportunities to help get you some extra cash!
  3. Get certified! Certifications in these industries are huge and can be the thing that separate you from other applicants when you’re applying for the management/supervisor position. Being certified also gains you access to a number of pro deals, which lower your expenses on gear!
  4. Network, network, network. The service sector is an extremely tight-knit community and you never if a connection you make with someone will come in handy in the future.
  5. Volunteer for any and every opportunity you get. Showing initiative like this is an easy way to display to your management team how you would conduct yourself in a potential management role in the future.

Gaining Money, Losing Interest

The dreaded day is coming. As much as you may have convinced yourself that your loans aren’t real and as far away as they seem, the money is real. It’s all money you have to pay back, with interest. So here are the two biggest tips I can give you to own repayment. One, during the six month grace period after graduation save money like crazy, build up a nest egg that you can pay the principle of your loan. The less debt you start with in the beginning means less interest you end up paying out in the end. Two, you will end up with a loan repayment plan with monthly payments, generally over 10 years. If you can make 13 payments a year instead of 12, you will pay off the loan 10 months faster than the plan is financed for, and save yourself thousands in interest.

Real Numbers: UMF’s average student debt is $31,000. Over ten years with 5.05% interest (current rate) a student with average debt will pay out $39,547.40 over the life of the loan. By cutting the payment period down by 10 months the total amount drops to $38,791.29. Now let’s say the student saved $3,000 during the grace period and began repayment with only $28,000. If they also made an extra payment every year for 10 years, they would pay out in total $35,037.13 Saving themselves over $4,500 by following these two tips.

5 Ways to save money on coffee

You hear it all the time: if you stop spending $4 a day on coffee you could be saving $100 or more a month!

But, as I’m sure my fellow caffeine fiends can attest…. WE NEED THAT COFFEE. Telling someone who buys coffee everyday to stop spending money on coffee is like telling someone to stop putting gas in their car or paying their electricity bill. Is that hyperbole? Maybe…but it’s true. Coffee keeps us going! You know what else it does? It makes you feel good, it’s a special treat, it gets you out of the office, it’s a reason to catch up with friends or coworkers. Coffee usually isn’t just about coffee…it’s a vehicle to fulfilling an emotional or social need. Maybe that $5.50 Starbucks latte makes you feel boujee because it’s the only boujee thing you can afford. Maybe you and your coworker walk to Dunkin’ everyday at 10:00am and vent about your boss. Maybe you’re so busy running back and forth from activities to classes to work that it’s the only thing that keeps you going and you don’t have time to make it at home. We all have our reasons. That being said, there are ways to still enjoy your hot bean water, get your needs met, and save a little bit of money:

1) Make your coffee at home. Investing in a good coffee maker and your favorite beans will save you money in the long run because it will ultimately cost you less per cup. If you’re buying a coffee or latte, you’re spending between $2 and $6 per cup. Meanwhile, brewing a cup of coffee at home costs you between 16 and 18 cents per cup. I personally prefer espresso over regular coffee so I asked for an espresso machine for Christmas. Two years later and I still use it every day. I spend about $12.25 a month on a pound of Carrabassett Coffee, plus coconut milk. Plus with an amazing variety of travel mugs available, you can keep your coffee hot or cold way longer than those crappy plastic cups (and you’re helping the environment!)

2) Make your coffee at work. A lot of offices have Keurig machines, coffee makers, or free coffee available. It may not be your favorite kind, but it will get the job done. Bring in your favorite creamer/milk option and your favorite flavoring (I keep a bottle of cinnamon powder in my desk) to make it feel extra.

3) Make everything but the coffee. Sometimes, you run out of coffee. Or you’re running late and ran out of time to make it. The most expensive part about buying a coffee drink can be the milk products and flavoring. At Starbucks, three shots of espresso cost you about $2.50, but a Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte, which has the same amount of espresso, costs $5.25, and if you need to go non-dairy it becomes $5.75. Save yourself the $3.25 by mixing your own milk and flavoring options at home (I do coconut milk, maple syrup, and cinnamon over ice) and then stop at the coffee shop for the actual coffee.

4) Figure our life hacks. One of the best life hacks I ever heard was for getting yourself a much, much cheaper latte. This doesn’t work as well with a hot drink unless you will be visiting a microwave soon, but it’s perfect for iced drinks. Order a double or triple shot of espresso over ice in a grande cup. Then walk yourself over to the milk bar and just pour in milk from the carrafes that people usually add to regular coffee. There is cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and chocolate powder there as well, along with sugar. BOOM you just saved yourself $3.00 on an iced latte.

5) Harness the power of cold brew concentrate. Still too short on time to make coffee everyday? Don’t have the money (or counter space) for a coffee machine? The cold brew craze has led lots of companies to create their own cold brew in a bottle so people can have the latest trend anytime they want. The Trader Joe’s concentrate costs about $16 and makes 12 – 8 oz. cups of coffee, which comes to about $1.33 per cup. The great thing about cold brew in a bottle is that it’s super concentrated and doesn’t necessarily have to be COLD. You can add a little water and milk to it, nuke it, and BAM you’ve got delicious hot coffee for pretty cheap. Skip the “add water” step and pour it over ice with your favorite milk product and BOOM iced latte (sort of). Take it one step further and make your OWN cold brew by putting about 8 tbs of coffee grounds into 32 ounces of water and let it sit overnight, then strain it out with either cheese cloth, coffee filter, or a super fine sieve. It’s easy and requires no additional hardware.



When your emotional needs are being met AND you’re making smart financial choices that keep your wallet (and your soul) happy- that’s what we like to call being “fiscally fit”. Happy sipping!