Families were able to learn more about budgeting and finance at an event Monday night.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) hosted a financial literacy at First National Bank, 810 Allen Drive, where attendees heard a presentation from personal banker Gabriel Torres about how they can start budgeting and saving for future expenses such as college.

Asia Berg, GEAR UP family, college and career financial specialist, said GEAR UP hosted the family literacy night event as a way for students and parents to learn how they can start budgeting now to prepare for the future.

“I was a first-generation college student and know how important it is to know how to afford college,” she said. “As a student, I never had anyone talk to me about how you afford college and how you start saving. We are here tonight (Monday) to help those students who may not know how to begin the college process figure out what to do. Even if they don’t go to college, we hope they realize how important it is to save and budget.”

In his presentation, Torres showed those in attendance what a monthly loan payment would be based off the terms and interest of the loan. He said that the longer the loan term, the more families will pay in the long run due to more interest paid on the loan.

When it comes to paying off debts such as a car loan, student loan, credit card loan and/or a mortgage payment, Torres said the fastest and best way to get out of debt is to pay off the debts with the highest interest rates first. He added that once those debts are paid off, the money that was previously used to pay them off should be used to pay off the remaining debts.

Torres also showed attendees a monthly budget on an Excel spreadsheet. He plugged in numbers to the spreadsheet to show how expenses on things such as fast food and gas can affect how much money they have at the end of the month. Torres urged attendees to be mindful of these expenses, as well as possible additional expenses when doing things such as traveling and how they affect their overall monthly budget.

Berg said she hopes events like the one Monday night make families and students more prepared and knowledgeable in their futures when it comes to financing and budgeting.

“I hope families understand what they need to do now to start budgeting and saving for the future,” she said. “Hopefully, they got some great resources they will be able to take back and use. Hopefully they realize, too, how important these things are and to not just live paycheck-to-paycheck. I hope they understand they can budget and save, even though it will take a lot of time and effort to do it.”

Berg said GEAR UP hopes to host another financial literacy night again next spring.

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