Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Instructors Notes' Michelle Jones: Financial Challenges and Opportunities

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Instructors Notes' Michelle Jones: Financial Challenges and Opportunities

Article excerpt


This case is designed for use in a Personal Finance class. Questions are posed in the order that the topics are addressed in most Personal Finance textbooks. The case can be assigned as a take-home assignment and/or discussed in consecutive class meetings. Alternatively, questions from the case can be assigned over the course of the semester to reinforce discussions/lectures of textbook material (i.e., a continuing case). For example, students would be required to address the questions regarding effective goal statements after discussing the corresponding chapter in the Personal Finance text. They would then address the questions regarding Personal Financial Statements after reading and discussing the appropriate chapter in the text.

This case is also designed to afford students the opportunity to assess their own personal finances. After addressing questions related to the case, it is recommended that students be asked to apply the concepts learned to their own personal situation. For example, after reading the appropriate sections of the text and discussing selected questions from the case, students could be asked to prepare/obtain and assess their own:

1. Goal Statements

2. Personal Balance Sheet

3. Monthly Budget

4. Spending Log

5. Credit Report

6. Auto coverage, if applicable

The Instructor can also use this case to highlight effective strategies for buying a car which center around the buyer doing his/her homework before going to the dealership. .An effective exercise is to pair off the students in the class with one student as the buyer and the other as the sales manager at the dealership. Students are instructed to research the pricing of a given new car. After completing their research, each pair of students negotiates the sales price against one another. At the end of the negotiation period, each pair submits their negotiated price and the range of prices negotiated along with the strategies employed are discussed.


The authors believe that all college students could benefit from taking a Personal Finance class. .Anecdotally, many college students are ill equipped to manage their money and often get into financial difficulty as a result. Specifically, students fail to establish credit or use credit poorly, thereby adversely affecting their credit history and credit score. They tend to make impulse purchases. They typically do not have written goal statements and do not prepare Personal Financial Statements. In their view, money management consists of going online to determine one's current checking account balance.

This case is written from the perspective of a recent college graduate, Michelle Jones. She was more fortunate than most in that she was not required to obtain loans to fund her education. More often, we see students complete their undergraduate degree requirements with a substantial debt load and limited job prospects. While Michelle graduated with no college debt, she made questionable financial decisions and was not prepared to manage her finances after graduation. This case highlights many of the key financial challenges faced by college students and recent graduates.


Ql. Michelle provided the following goal statements in response to Dr. Thomas' question.

1. To be wealthy

2. To own a home

3. To marry and have two children

4. To obtain an MBA

5. To move up the corporate ladder

6. To be financially independent at age 60

How would you classify these goal statements as short, intermediate or long-term? Short-term goals are those to be accomplished within a year. Intermediate-term goals have a timeframe of one to five years for accomplishment. Goals that require more than five years for accomplishment are considered long-term goals. None of Michelle's goals appear to be shortterm. We would classify them as follows. …

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