A recent Georgetown graduate, Ashita Trikha (MSB ’06),works at Wells Fargo as a strategy consultant in the online payments division. Trikha provides a unique perspective on the economic crisis as a former American Express employee in New York City. Fresh from her undergraduate experience, she is already wise in the ways of America’s mammoth financial institutions.

What advice would you give students on how to best budget their finances?

First and foremost, it is important that students have readily available information on their balances and access to paying bills, considering a student’s lifestyle. Banking needs to be convenient and so the online channel becomes increasingly important. With the current economic climate – amid worries of finding jobs and financing graduate school – students need to ensure that the loans they’re taking have the best rates possible. Ensure that you’re constantly surveying the market to determine what various financial institutions are offering.

In terms of day-to-day spending, there are a variety of online tools that facilitate budgeting. For example, Wells Fargo offers a tool called “My Spending Report” that allows students to view how they’re spending their money each month. It is important that students watch their finances on a daily basis; starting such habits at this stage in your life sets you up to be more financially successful in the future.

It really is about taking advantage of the services that any financial institution can offer you and ensuring you are paying bills on time and are generally on top of your finances. Considering the hectic lifestyles that students lead coupled with the tense economic climate, it’s absolutely essential that students can access their balances on demand and pay bills quickly.

What services would you recommend to the typical over-committed Georgetown student?

As I work in the online division of Wells Fargo, I’m particularly excited about mobile banking, which is the newest direction banking is taking. It’s basically another way to get to the Internet and allows students to check their balances on the go. In the next few months, Wells Fargo will be launching the ability to pay bills from your cell phone. Hopefully you’re not doing it in class, but with a mobile device you can now manage your financial portfolio. Essentially, mobile banking is making banking all the more accessible and convenient for younger demographics, and is more in line with their lifestyles.

Wells Fargo is also introducing inter-customer transfers, which is akin to a PayPal type of network. These transfers will allow customers to instantaneously transfer funds to other customers with Wells Fargo. You can make sure you’re paying your friends back and your parents can instantaneously transfer money so that you can buy books or deal with unexpected expenditures.

Would you advise students to be investing in the market at this stage in their lives?

First of all, it depends on what type of student we’re considering. I was absolutely investing when I was at Georgetown, but all students are investing in their futures simply by being students. It also depends on how much liquid cash you have at your disposal. There are many great online tools that help you to manage your investments, which make it easier for a student to invest. These tools aren’t just for the business mogul with millions of dollars on hand; they’re absolutely targeted to folks that are just trying to grow their nest eggs. I think it’s always good to be thinking about investing – I know I was.

What about building up credit – should students be applying for credit cards?

Considering the current economic crisis, lending standards are getting to be more stringent. We’ve seen a shift from the mortgage-lending crisis to the credit card lending crisis and it’s increasingly become all about being responsible. Using a credit card to your advantage at this age can be great, as long as you’re not using it as a substitute for cash. If you have the financial means and are paying off, in their entirety, your bills every month, a credit card in your name is a great tool for a student. If you’re responsible about it, applying for a personal credit card can yield many rewards.

When I graduated, the job market and economic climate were nothing like they are now. Students are facing a completely different climate that is hopefully making the next generation more responsible.

-Interviewed by Natalie Sykes

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