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$mart Women teaches the value of a dollar

Karen Anderson, a Mills alumna and businesswoman, asked her audience what they would like to get out of her Oct. 27 seminar entitled “$mart Woman.” Almost twenty people in the Student Union raised their hands and revealed that Mills women need answers about money.

According to handouts, the day-long seminar was designed to inform young people about the many ways money functions in a person’s life and how people can maintain control over their finances. It covered topics such as investing, credit card accounts, car rentals and saving money in a standard retirement fund such as a 401K.

Throughout the seminar, Anderson emphasized the importance of educating women about money. “There are still lots of misconceptions about women’s roles with money,” she said, as she presented statistics on how women are more anxious and less confident when it comes to finances.

Although these misconceptions exist, Anderson provided statistics about how women are capable of managing their money, including that 6.5 million women own their own businesses and 59% of BA’s went to women in 2006.

Freshman Shannon Thompson attended the seminar because she wanted a head start on properly handling money. “I thought it’d be really good to get an idea about how to save my money and other things like that.”

Anderson provided a packet of resources which included her entire Powerpoint presentation and a few exercises. The group received exercises to help identify individual financial habits, but because of time constraints, students did not do them.

One exercise asked participants to write down everything that they bought the day before and then the day before that and even the day before that. According to Anderson, this was supposed to help participants realize where their funds are going and to also get people to think about what they should invest in instead.

During the lunch break, groups talked about the seminar. Freshwoman Kiya Komaiko, said that “the information really applies to us,” she said. “It’s all very basic and useful.”

Anderson talked about how she is trying to reach out to young people through education programs that teach teenagers about money.

“This financial education is just not something we do,” Anderson explained. “It’s something we’re supposed to find out on our own.”

Anderson wanted students to walk away from the seminar feeling “a little smarter about what money is and how it works, how it can be empowering to themselves and their lives.