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Financial Wellbeing is essentially our ability to manage what we have in a responsible manner – both in the short term and the long – and achieve peace of mind and a piece of our dreams.


Student debt is one of the largest issues confronting the future of our nation’s economy. The average Wake Forest graduate in the Class of 2013 faced $35,902 in student debt. Depending on financing terms, that can mean a monthly bill of $300.

It’s a good idea to plot your professional future as soon as possible, and the acclaimed staff of the Office of Personal and Career Development can help. Nearly 98 percent of the Class of 2013 had secured employment or a graduate school spot within six months of graduation. That’s the highest on record at Wake Forest and one of the highest in the country.

Let’s say you go on an online shopping binge tonight and charge $1,884 worth of goods on the most common credit-card terms. If you pay the minimum 2 percent of the existing balance every month and no more, you’ll be in debt until Sunday, Jan. 26, 2031. And you will have paid $3,443.80 for your stuff, most of which will probably be obsolete by then.

A study in the Journal of American College Health has identified links between high-risk credit behavior and all of the following: drunken driving; use of amphetamines; functional impairment from depression; above-average body-mass index; lower grade-point averages; and unprotected sexual activity. “The findings support the notion that high-risk health and credit behaviors are associated,” the authors concluded.

The positive trend: Aided by a 2009 federal law that made card ownership harder for those under 21, students have dramatically lowered their debt from a median figure of $1,648 in 2008 to $373 last year. The reductions hold true for all card-holders regardless of whether they carry balances or none. So cutting back and paying off are possible.

Immediate payoff means long-term payoff. Or at least freedom from the credit trap.

Faculty & Staff

Plenty of others are in your boat or sailing close by.

  • The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that fewer than half of adult workers have calculated how much they need in retirement.
  • Nationwide, 30 percent of workers with access to a 401(k) or similar plan – Wake Forest’s is under section 403(b) of the Tax Code – don’t use it.
  • The National Institute on Retirement Security says one-third of workers within 10 years of retirement haven’t saved anything for their golden years.

But it’s not too late. For one thing, the law allows workers aged 50 and over to make up for lost time. This permits up to $23,000 in annual contributions to retirement plans.

For another, Wake Forest offers assistance through the Human Relations division’s Professional Development Center.

Here are some specific pointers from professionals:

  1. Set a goal and start planning.
  2.  Decide what you’re going to do in retirement. Travel? Play golf? Any other expensive adventures?
  3. Mitigate your current debt.
  4. Hire a financial advisor.
  5. Be flexible and prepared for the unexpected such as stock-market downturns.