Martin Edelston, founder and chairman of Boardroom, Inc. — which publishes Bottom Line/Personal — has long dreamed of bringing college students the same kind of concise, useful information that you find in this publication. This past spring, his dream became reality when a Boardroom-supported course began at his alma mater, Rutgers University. The class, called “Love and Money: Valuable Lessons for Life,” was led by economist Susan Feinberg, PhD, associate professor of management and global business at Rutgers Business School. The course offered an array of guest lecturers — many of them longtime Bottom Line contributors.

Though the course was planned for undergraduates, the material it covered included personal finance insights for adults, too. Examples…

  • Insurance. Eugene Raitt, executive vice president and chief direct marketing officer of AIG Companies Worldwide, discussed the ramifications of no health insurance. For example, if an adult child has no coverage, he/she actually may endanger his parents. Reason: Parents may bankrupt themselves helping an adult child get through a health emergency. Solution: Parents should consider buying “catastrophic” insurance for uninsured adult children to cover hospital and medical expenses.
  • Credit cards. The good news about credit cards is that you have more rights than you may think. Examples from credit adviser Gerri Detweiler of Credit.com and author of such best-selling books as The Ultimate Credit Handbook

If your interest rate is increased, you may have the right to decline the higher rate on existing debt, but if a charge comes through, such as an automatic renewal, your account will go to the higher rate and you’ll be stuck with it. Traps: You have a short amount of time to decline the higher rate… you must follow instructions exactly… if you decline the new rate, you can’t charge new purchases.

Buyers have protection against merchant misrepresentation. Gerri cited the example of a tourist in Italy who bought a sculpture made of marble — or so the seller, and the credit card receipt, said. When an expert in the US certified that it was plaster, and not marble, the buyer notified the credit card company — which reimbursed the payment in full and debited the seller.

In addition to lessons on insurance and credit, the Rutgers course covered investments, loans, saving and retirement, and also such “softer” topics as setting goals, building healthy relationships, coping with loss and choosing a career. At the first class, I told the students that this would be the most valuable course they ever took in college. And based on the student feedback, that was indeed so.