Yanely Espinal learned some hard financial lessons growing up in New York City with nine siblings and as first-generation college student at Brown. The Director of Educational Outreach at Next Gen Personal Finance offered advice for how to avoid making the same mistakes she did, along with some valuable financial advice during a 30-minute webinar hosted by CFES Brilliant Pathways.

The April 30th event titled “What Every Student and Their Parents Should Know About Managing Money” was the fourth installment of a professional development series by CFES for College and Career Readiness Advisors, educators, high school students and their families.

Also known as “MissBeHelpful” by her 42,000 Youtube followers, Espinal gave specific strategies for how to save for college, avoid racking up major debt in college, build your credit score, make money during the COVID-19 crisis, investing as a young professional, and a host of other financially-related topics.

“I didn’t realize when I was applying that when you are offered money for college it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s free,” said Espinal. “That’s why I tell students and parents to look into applying for scholarships and grants as early as possible, and when you do get a financial aid letter from a college that you look at with a microscope to try and understand exactly what it says and how much you are responsible for paying.”

Once in college, Espinal urged students to be as frugal as possible to avoid accumulating credit card and other forms of debt with high interest rates. After graduation, students should create a debt payback plan, which will help build credit and allow for some initial investments at their first job such as a 401K plan.

“A debt repayment plan is number one,” says Espinal. “Pull up a debt repayment calculator and plug in some numbers and it will tell you exactly how long repayment will take. Secondly, you should build up your saving account so you have a cushion in case something unexpected happens like COVID-19. Once you have those two in place, then you can invest. If your first job offers a 401K or 403B you will want to take advantage of it. That’s what I did when I started as a teacher, and then I opened an investment account at a brokerage firm.”

The next CFES webinar is scheduled for May 13 at 2 PM Eastern Time with Greg Muccio, Director of People at Southwest Airlines. He will talk with Rick Dalton, President and CEO of Brilliant Pathways about the Essential Skills. Muccio recently said that the CFES Essentials Skills, which are core values of Southwest, have become even more important today than ever. He will share how the Essential Skills have made Southwest one of America’s top airlines and how educators and leaders can help others develop these competencies. Register here.