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Local expert teaches students about personal finance

One local educator is looking to expand curriculum in the Gem State’s schools, spreading the word about personal finance, arguing that a credit score can be more important than any test score.

“Whether they know it or not, (students are) actually already starting to build their credit reports — their credit history,” said personal finance expert Luke Erickson, who is an associate professor of extension at the University of Idaho.

Erickson is kicking off a new program, visiting high schools and college campuses across Idaho to teach students about good credit, because bad credit can happen so easily and follow a person so closely — even to a job interview.

“It’s a very competitive job market right now,” Erickson said. “There may be other people that are in the same boat. And to narrow it down, (employers) are starting to weed people out by checking credit scores.”

Erickson’s program also reviews all of the factors that can hurt a credit score, and it’s not just missed credit card payments.

“Using a finance company loan, even if you pay it on time, is actually automatically negative,” Erickson explained. “It’s vitally important to students that young people pay attention.”

When we visited the Brigham Young University – Idaho campus, every student we talked to seemed to be paying attention.

“I know you can’t really do much with mortgages or taking a house loan or buying cars if you don’t have good credit,” said Jackson McNiel, a senior who said he checks his credit score yearly.

“Finances and managing finances are very important to me,” said Rachelle Moss, a junior who said she creates budgets on a spreadsheet.

If personal finance seems a little overwhelming, Erickson said not to worry.

“Start off very small and go to a local credit union and ask for a very low-limit credit card,” Erickson said.

Erickson also writes a personal finance blog called “Idaho’s Two Cent Tips.”

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