Student Signature Experience


What is your order of operations when it comes to money? In an exercise I like to do with Mines’ students, I ask them to prioritize the following in the order in which they believe they should be done: Spend, Save, Invest, and Give.  They majority of students reply that they should be investing first, saving next, spending, and last but not least, giving.  Sounds good, right?  The catch is the follow up question: arrange those same options in the order that you actually do them.  There is a significant difference in the order of operations from how we believe we should handle our money vs the order of operations that we actually do.  The majority of students actual order of operations is Spend, Save, Invest, Give.  If our first order of business is to spend our money, the rest is unlikely to follow.  Most of my students admit to not actually having any money saved or invested, followed by the excuse, “But I’m in college.” 

Personally, I have adopted the somewhat radical order of Give, Save, Invest, Spend.  This approach enables me to live out my faith with charitable giving and to be intentional in providing for my family and planning for retirement.  I find contentment and peace of mind in only spending what I have left to spend.

If students have not learned financial literacy at home, in high school, or in college, they are likely to learn some of these lessons the hard way.  Statistics indicate that an unexpected expense of $500.00 would put roughly 50% of Americans into debt, and 1 out of every 5 people do not take advantage of an employer’s match to their 401k.  We all need to evaluate where our money goes so that we can be better prepared for the future.  In response to this need, Professor LaFrancois and myself, Andrew Pederson, applied for and were rewarded funds from the Signature Student Experience Fund to develop four online modules that teach Personal Finance.  Two modules are being developed during Summer 2021 and include information on budgeting and types of accounts (Roth, IRA, etc.). Two additional modules will be developed in 2022 and plan to be focused on big purchases, such as buying a house or car, and general investment advice.  Each online module will be a combination of recorded video lessons, articles and/or outside resources, and will include exercises for the students to complete.

Another valuable resource for current students is personal stories and testimonials from Mines Alumni.  This is where we need your help!  You can contribute to these online modules by sharing a story of your biggest financial mistake, a valuable lesson you learned after graduating, or by answering the question: What do you wish you had known about money before graduating from Mines?  We would love to hear from you.

Please reach out to me, Andrew Pederson, at and I can get more information to you about how you can help shape future generations of Helleva Engineers, Scientists, and Economists!