Category: Financial Topics
A recent study by Genworth Financial found that while many Americans believe that there is a correlation between financial literacy and retirement readiness, less than half actively seek out the knowledge they need to make informed decisions. Whats standing in their way?
The complexity of financial products, uncertainty about how to even get started, and an apparent lack of time.
The gender split on this issue was even more striking. Only 34 percent of women said they would be willing to try to deepen their understanding of financial matters because of the complexity of the products. By comparison, 61 percent of men said they were willing to put in some effort.
At the core of these statistics is a very basic emotion: Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of appearing ignorant. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of taking the wrong step and losing hard-earned savings.
My more than 25 years in financial management have taught me that it is the emotions that often stand in the way of an individuals path to financial security and wealth. If we as an industry are to help individuals overcome these emotions and redirect their energy toward a healthy financial future, then we need to rethink our approach to financial education.
Education is part of financial management. That is a point that often gets lost in the conversations about asset allocation, retirement savings programs, and estate plans. In order to help clients, it is the job of a financial advisor not only to learn about and advise her clients on their investments and goals, but also to learn about each clients hopes and dreams.
Usually these hopes and dreams are related to family. It is important for an advisor to know if a client has children and how the family communicates. This is particularly important as financial education should often be designed with all major household decision makers in mind. Are there elderly parents that need support, either financially or emotionally (because the latter can wreak havoc on the former)? What risks, ranging from death and disability to changing jobs, is the client concerned about?
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When I meet with a client, most of my discussions are not about investment topics. Im a mother of four, a business owner, and a former first grade teacher. I also take care of my elderly father, and I understand first-hand the challenge of juggling all of these responsibilities and identities. When I work with someone, I know that Im not just working with one person, Im working with the whole family. I need to understand their pressure points so that I can walk them through the steps to creating cushions to relieve that stress.
And what about the complexity of the products cited in the Genworth study? If we take the patient approach and are willing to explain, often repeatedly, how something works, and then give our clients time to digest and practice the skills, they will learn. More importantly, they will feel empowered about the decisions they make. It is that empowerment that allows our clients to shift from a path of financial insecurity and fear to one of wealth. I tell my clients that my ultimate goal is for them to not need me to manage their money, because if I am not here, they could be knowledgeable enough to manage their investments themselves. Having educated and knowledgeable clients makes for a better relationship all around.
Financial education is not a gender issue. The different learning styles and concerns of each client, whether man or woman, requires financial advisors to meet their clients where they currently are. This generally means getting rid of the financial jargon and simplifying the discussion. As an industry we need to raise the financial literacy of both men and women. If, however, we are to close the gender gap in financial education and overcome womens hesitation to participate, then we must create learning environments that encourage women clients to ask questions in a safe, non-judgmental surrounding.
I have often said that women clients can be the toughest to get, but the best to have. They want to understand, and they invest more time and energy in really digging deeply into every topic put in front of them. Once they trust you, you cannot have a stronger advocate. Women clients who are engaged are great ambassadors. Empower them and, on their own, they will close the financial literacy gap.
Written by Susan McGlory Michel
Michel is the founder and CEO of Glen Eagle Advisors LLC,an independent, full service investment firm with more than $350 million in client assets, headquartered in Princeton. Shesbeen advising clients for more than 25 years.
As a certified Woman Business Enterprise, Michel is passionate about helping other women succeed as financial advisors and in working with other woman business owners.She is an active volunteer and member of many professional and community organizations, including the Womens President Organization (WPO), Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners (NJAWO), and more.
She is dedicated to improving educational opportunities for all students, with a particular emphasis on ensuring that financial topics are being incorporated into education curriculum and that young women are being encouraged. She was recently recognized with a 2014 Enterprising Women of the Year Award, a distinction that reflects her volunteer efforts and business success.
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Setting Up LearnVest
When you download and install LearnVest on your iPhone, the app will walk you through the setup process quickly. It could take anywhere from two to 15 minutes, depending on how many financial accounts you have and how much customization you want.
Early in the setup process, LearnVest tells you to create a passcode, which is a good thing. Even though none of your bank account information is directly stored on the app, you should still protect all the data regarding your net worth, spending habits, and related information.
You start by selecting up to three financial topics of interest from a short list. They include: Budget Better, Buy a House, Retire, Deal With Loans, Invest Wisely, Pay Off Credit Cards, Save More, and Earn More. Youll also see a quick house ad asking if youd like to set up an appointment to speak with a LearnVest advisor. LearnVest makes its money through financial planning advisement, but you dont have to partake in it to use the free app.
Now to the meaty part: You have to authenticate the app to access data from your online financial accounts. Its all secure, and as I mentioned, none of your account information is stored in the app directly. Ifyoure hyper secure and dont want to give a personal finance app direct access to your accounts, there are alternatives, including Dollarbird and Checkbook. Those two apps require manual entry and are less convenient to use.But if you really want a personal finance app thats totally disconnected from your actualbank accounts, they are decent options.
Like Mint, LearnVest finds all your transactions and account balances, both current and historical up to three months back, to give you a picture of your net worth as well as insights into where you typically spend your money.
Also similar to Mint, LearnVest automatically classifies the transactions into categories such as Groceries, Bills, Restaurants and Bars, Personal Care, and so forth. If it cant make a good guess as to the correct category, it leaves it unclassified. You then have the opportunity to go through the list, item by item, and classify them all correctly.
One annoyance with classifying expenses is that LearnVest doesnt learn from its mistakes. If I correct an expense made at Parrot Coffee from Restaurant and Bars to Groceries, I want LearnVest to offer to make the same change to all other transactions made at the same establishment. If LearnVest sees $800 incoming on the same day every month that it wrongly classifies as income, and I correct it to Transfer, I want it to learn to correctly classify it as such in the future. Mint doesnt offer to automatically reclassify similar transactions either. To the best of my knowledge, no mobile personal financial app does this yet.
As you dig into your spending and earnings, you can see charts and graphs showing how much money you spend in different categories and what percent of your total spending any given category comprises. LearnVest lays out all this information in very easy-to-read formats.
Id like to see LearnVest get some of the nitty-gritty details right because as it stands, there are two features missing that I think are important. One is the ability to exclude a transaction from your accounting. Lets say Im shopping with my imaginary daughter, and she wants to buy an item. I tell her she has to pay for it herself. I buy it with my credit card, and she gives me cash. Its a zero-sum transaction for me, but LearnVest records it as a deficit. I could balance the transaction by adding a manual cash income line item (which you can do for expenses, too), but it would be simpler to just exclude it. Mint gives you that option, but LearnVest does not.
Mint also gives you the ability to split a transaction. Say I withdraw $100 from the ATM, and $60 goes to dinner at a restaurant, but $40 goes to gas for my imaginary car. To keep track of my budgeting accurately, I would want to split that ATM transaction and record the two amounts separately. You cant do that in the LearnVest mobile app, although you can if you log into the LearnVest website, where all your mobile information is also available. Splits are especially common in multi-memberhouseholds.
LearnVest lets you set budgets for different spending categories, as I mentioned, as well as create priorities. Priorities could be saving for a home renovation, paying off debt, saving more for retirement, or whatever else. Its a rather simple tool. You write down your goal, decide which account youll use to help you reach that goal, set a date, and let LearnVest figure out how much you need to save per month while taking into account how much money you already have toward that end.
LearnVest doesnt have bill-pay reminders, but an app called Check was createdjust for that purpose, and seeing as its also free, theres no reason not to use it in addition to LearnVest (or Mint for that matter).
LearnVests roots are in education about personal finance, so the app contains a reading section where you can brush up on all your economic interests. These are straightforward articles with basic explanations and principles of personal finance. You might read abouthow to get started investing, for example, or how to get out of credit card debt.
For deeper and more personalized guidance, you can set up an appointment through the app to speak with a live advisor on the phone. Sure, youll probably face some upselling for LearnVests full financial services, but the prompt to make that phone call isnt pushy, which I like.
A Real Competitor to Mint
LearnVests mobile app is the first real competitor to Mint Ive tested, though it doesnt quite nudge Mint from itsEditors Choice perch because Mint adds a few key features that LearnVest doesnt yet have. Its still a very good personal finance and budgeting app, with a great design, an intuitive interface, andhelpful reading material.
Buckeye, AZ, July 25, 2014 –(PR.com)– Bass will share why he sees this approach worth considering. He is the author of The Gold Investors Handbook and The Apprentice Millionaire Portfolio and is also one of Canadas top ranked economists, and consulting company manager. Bass is focusing more of his time now on Outsourcing and Offshoring, for both businesses and individuals. Is this an idea which might make sense for you? What are some of the key benefits for businesses? Are there benefits for individuals? How are the increasing government regulations affecting the advantages and risks?
The Wealth DNA Radio Show is broadcast internationally and discusses a wide variety of financial topics. It airs the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month at 9:00 AM Arizona Time. You can listen to past show archives and see the topics of upcoming shows at www.WealthDNA.us.
American teens may know the mall like the back of their hand, but their knowledge of financial topics such as saving, spending and investing is average at best.
The first large-scale international study on financial literacy among 15-year-olds came out on Wednesday, and the results are grim. Among the 18 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developments assessment, the US ranked at best eighth and at worst 12th, based on the range of scores from its 1,133 students tested. Globally, more than 29,000 students took the test.
How do you feel when you get the also participated ribbon? said Ted Beck, president and chief executive for the National Endowment for Financial Education, in an interview with CNBC. Thats kind of where we are.
US teens scored a mean 492 on the OECD test, eight points below the overall global mean of 500–and more than 100 points below first-ranked Shanghai-Chinas 603. (See chart below for a country-by-country ranking.)
Average performance in financial literacy
To put those scores in perspective, a student with baseline financial literacy skills–including the ability to apply the concept of value for money and identify relevant financial information on items such as invoices–would score somewhere in the range of 400 to 475. To be considered at the highest level of proficiency, students must score at least 625. Those top performers would be able to interpret complex financial documents and anticipate the consequences of each option available when making a financial decision.
Among US teens, 9.4 percent were top performers, comparable to the 9.7 percent of all countries in the test. But more American students fell on the lowest end of the scale than in other nations:17.8 percent did not reach basic proficiency versus 15.3 percent globally.
Domestically, students who came from higher-income families, or had a parent in a skilled occupation (especially one in finance) tended to score higher, as did students who had their own bank account. A small bright spot: Girls had mean scores of just one point lower than boys, much less of a discrepancy than in other countries.
Researchers say the test provides a baseline assessment of students knowledge to help craft strategies going forward.
This is an important test to see how much the students know, do they have this important skill? said Annamaria Lusardi, a professor at George Washington University who is chairing the OECD group that designed the assessment, in a CNBC interview. I think it shows theres a lot more to be done.
Without action, poor scores dont bode well, Terry Seaton, a member of the National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, told CNBC.
Financial products such as mortgages and credit cards are increasingly complex, and employers are putting more choices of retirement funding and health-care options in the hands of employees. Plus, todays 15-year-olds are just years away from potentially taking out student loans, a debt decision that could follow them for decades.
It translates into real economic problems for the country, Seaton said.
Where we lose
A key commonality among countries whose teens scored better than the US is education. New Zealand and Australia, for example, have both developed national financial literacy strategies with mandated education components. Being proactive has really paid out for their young people, Lusardi said.
Chinas testing was limited to Shanghai students, a narrow scope Lusardi likened to the US testing only students in Washington, DC Still, China and other Asian countries typically rank among the top five for other school subjects–and OECD data showed some positive correlation between financial literacy skills and high performance in mathematics and reading.
In Shanghai, the mathematics scores are contributing to a high score in financial literacy, Michael Davidson, head of early childhood education and schools for OECD, told reporters in a webinar on the results.
The US released its National Strategy for Financial Literacy in 2011, but educational components are relegated to the states. Seaton said only four states require high school students take a personal finance course to graduate and another 16 mandate some financial literacy components in classwork.
Even some of those mandated state programs arent funded, Lusardi said. That leaves it to school districts to figure it out themselves, with varying success.
Nonprofits and private industry initiatives have stepped in help close the financial literacy gap, but their success is limited by their reach, Seaton said.
Its difficult to get to the masses with evening and weekend programs, he said. The major part is going to have to be the public schools, because thats where the kids are.
Davidson said it remains to be seen what kind of educational approach works best–one with a separate personal finance curriculum or one where personal finance issues are interwoven with other subjects such as math and English. Many of the countries surveyed have newly implemented their programs and strategies, so its premature to expect to see results in the students test performance.
The question of, does financial education work or not, is too early to say, Davidson said.
DIY financial literacy
Until a more standardized system for financial literacy is put in place, its largely on parents–and kids themselves–to boost their knowledge. A University of Arizona study on college students financial behaviors found that three things help there: Parental involvement, taking a personal finance class and having a part-time job and other hands-on money experience.
Talk to your kids about money, Beck said. Its a continuous process.
Of course, you might be part of the problem. Sometimes parents cant be the best teachers of financial literacy, because they dont know themselves, Lusardi said. Supplement with local programs and online resources, including Jump$tart, Money As You Grow and the AICPAs 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy.
Experts also advise pushing for more personal finance in the school curriculum, lobbying both your local schools for inclusion and area businesses for sponsorship or teacher training funds.
More than half of the US teens tested have a bank account, and 69 percent reported earning money from work. While that hands-on experience didnt necessarily result in higher scores for all, its a key component for learning.
You have to understand the rules and the way things work, but you also need to develop the skills to make it effective, Seaton said. Practice the financial literacy skills set of banking, checking, and use of a credit or debit card. The sooner [teens] learn how to actually deal with those things and develop that skill set, the better off theyre going to be.
The only thing more difficult than financial planning appears to be discussing it with loved ones. Money has long been labeled as a taboo topic among Americans, but families across the nation are struggling when to have detailed conversations about important financial topics.
According to a new study by Fidelity Investments, almost two-thirds of parents and their adult children disagree when to discuss retirement preparedness, eldercare, and estate planning. Parents prefer to wait until they retire to talk about such topics, while children want to hold conversations well before their parents retire or experience health issues. In fact, 40 percent of parents indicate they have not had detailed conversations with family members about covering living expenses in retirement, and another 15 percent have not had any conversations at all.
Commentary by Glenn Arola
412th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Center
7/8/2014-EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.–Due to the recent trends and the financial challenges of military life, the Department of Defense has teamed up with the Federal Trade Commission, who has partnered with other organizations to form the Military Consumer, a campaign to empower you the consumer to be informed and promote financial readiness. It officially starts July 16 and will be named Consumer Protection Day, but unlike the other campaigns, it is indefinite and permanent.
The reason for this is simple: We need to be armed with all the financial information and take the right financial actions to maintain a high state of financial readiness, not only during our time in the armed services, but many years after that. The average life span today due to ever improving medical technology is approximately 86 years old. So if you dont have a financial plan or have one that lasts until age 77, best you have children because you will end up living with them!
Our financial condition is in direct correlation to our vulnerability to fraudulent actions and scams. Here are some alarming facts taken from the Military Consumer Protection Day Concept Paper dated June 12, 2014. During the past 12 months, 43 percent of servicemembers experienced a financial shortfall; 21 percent of E-1s to E-4s have no emergency savings and 9 percent have less than $100 in emergency savings. Thirty-three percent of servicemembers describe their financial situations as difficult and 20 percent describe their situation as worse than 12 months ago. In 2013 the Federal Trade Commission received more than 72,900 complaints from military consumers. Identity theft was at the top of the list with more than 22,000 complaints.
There are many resources brought on by this initiative. More than 30 federal, state and municipal agencies, consumer advocates and military support organizations are involved and willing to serve you. What you have to do is simple – get involved! Help spread the word by visiting Military Consumer (www.military.ncpw.gov)and supporting the campaign; find and share information about avoiding scams, investing wisely and fighting identity theft; download or order free educational materials, and subscribe to the blog to stay connected.
As an ongoing effort for this month to promote the new program, we have acquired much needed materials and literature so individuals and organizations can come down and pick them up for the units. We are able to brief many financial topics for commanders calls, training days and other needed events. At the Airman and Family Readiness Center, we have ongoing assistance through the Personal Financial Management Program. Each branch of service offers prevention education, financial counseling, debt liquidation assistance and consumer advocacy programs.
To find a local program, contact the Military One Source at (800) 342-9647 to schedule an appointment with a financial counselor. We offer the same services at the AFRC. Additionally we have extended our financial counseling services to DOD civilians. To see a financial counselor at the AFRC call (661) 277-0723. Two excellent ways to get on the path to financial success.
Get financially savvy today!
The NFEC has launched the Framework for Teaching Personal Finance to provide clear benchmarks to measure the performance of financial education instructors.
Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) July 16, 2014
The National Financial Educators Council brought together a think tank of educators, financial professionals and personal finance experts to develop benchmarks for financial education instructors – Framework for Teaching Personal Finance. The Framework and report is made available complimentary by the NFEC.
While the education industry has established criteria that qualify teachers, until now the financial literacy industry lacked clear guidelines for financial educators. Financial education is typically taught by financial professionals, traditional educators and volunteers – each had unique problems. Traditional educators report lacking the confidence to teach financial literacy. Financial professionals often understand financial topics yet lack training on general teaching and presentation methods. And volunteers often lacked teaching skill sets and knowledge on personal financial matters.
The Framework for Teaching Personal Finance includes performance standards that provide professional development guidelines. This Framework was designed to assist organizations to set clear evaluation criteria, establish benchmarks for hiring educators and provide the public assurance that financial education instructors are held to the highest standards of practice.
To develop the Framework for Teaching Personal Finance, the NFEC selected to work with Charlotte Danielsons Framework for Teaching. The Framework for Teaching is the most widely-used teaching model in the United States, and has been adopted in over twenty states. With the support of their consultants the NFEC modified the Framework to meet the specific needs of Financial Education Instructors.
Studies demonstrate that a Framework for those teaching financial literacy topics is needed. Students of highly-qualified educators accomplish more positive outcomes than those taught by less-qualified instructors. The Dallas Public Schools’ Accountability System found that, the more effective the instructor, the greater the student gains. Studies conducted by researchers at the University of Tennessee demonstrate that teacher effectiveness has a cumulative, financially measurable effect on student achievement; those effects are long-lasting and sustainable. Researchers also found that teachers are the single most important variable contributing to student success, regardless of student age.
“Teachers are the single most important variable contributing to student success. The qualifications of financial educators directly influences both short-term student outcomes and long-term impact on their financial well-being,” states Vince Shorb, NFEC CEO.
Financial education is a unique subject that requires specialized expertise to teach effectively. Unlike other core subject matter typically taught in schools, the topic of money elicits emotional reactions in people. Each participant going through financial literacy curriculum brings his or her own experience, emotions, and relationship with money into the classroom. The Framework for Teaching Personal Finances outlines benchmarks for financial educators so they understand and respect these emotional reactions to succeed in improving the financial capabilities of the participants.
The National Financial Educators Council developed the Framework for Teaching Personal Finances to illuminate best practices to share with others in the financial literacy industry. The NFEC is a research and resource provider with the end objective of helping individuals improve their financial capabilities.
For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/Framework-for-Teaching/Personal-Finance/prweb12008477.htm
Asif Imtiaz worked as a prop trader for almost a decade, and later he managed trading operations for one of the largest foreign exchange strategy developers in Europe. Currently, he works as a trading consultant to several brokers and write on various tech and financial topics as a freelancer.
Asif Imtiaz worked as a prop trader for almost a decade, and later he managed trading operations for one of the largest foreign exchange strategy developers in Europe. Currently, he works as a trading consultant to several brokers and write on various tech and financial topics as a freelancer.
Half of the
year is behind us, which means you still have half of a year to make course
corrections. Here are a few financial checkpoints to explorethat will help you detect
1. At work.Look
at your pay stub and think through your withholding, says Judith Ward, a
senior financial planner with T. Rowe Price. Can you fine-tune cash
flow by letting Uncle Sam have a bit less each pay period and diverting the difference
to savings? “If you got back a lot more
money than you expected after April 15, why let the government borrow your
money?” Ward asks.
earning more, save more,” says Ken
Moraif, a certified financial planner and senior advisor at Money Matters,a wealth management and investment firm based in North Dallas. “Can
you add just one more 1 percent to your current contribution? You won’t miss it, but an extra percent a
year will add up. It seems like a drop in the bucket, but it will
fill that bucket over time.”
Look at how a
Roth individual retirement account could play into your overall retirement picture, even if you
already have a healthy 401(k) account, Ward advises. With a 401(k), you don’t have
to pay taxes on the amount you save now, but you do have to pay income taxes on
the amount you withdraw when you are retired (presumably at a lower rate).
[See:7 Ways to Take Advantage of Your 401(k).]
A Roth IRA is the exact opposite: You pay income taxes now
on the amount you save in your Roth IRA, but you can withdraw the money after
retiring without paying any income taxes. Ward says Roth IRA income in retirement provides stability and helps
offset any income taxes you owe then. “That tax diversification is good to
have,” she says.
2. At home.Have you
started reaping income from your home or apartment? Make sure your homeowners
insurance covers paying guests, recommends Jeanne Salvatore, senior
vice president for the Insurance Information Institute.
Do you have
home renovations or improvements underway? Update your property insurance to
reflect renovations and updates. Make
sure you know what your insurance covers, whether its for replacement value or for the original
cost of your home and subsequent updates. If you have done significant
renovations, you will probably need to update your property insurance
forget to addthevalue of new furnishings for the new space.
forget to take off any riders covering workmen.
- Triple-check that you don’t have any outstanding liens from workmen or subcontractors.
emergency fund doing, and do you detect any emergencies on the horizon? Did
the air conditioner resist coming out of hibernation? Will the roof make it
through one more winter? Even if you are not making significant home
repairs and replacements this year, take an inventory of looming problems and
scope out the likely cost so you can build your emergency fund to accommodate
expenses occurring on a regular basis? This year, the refrigerator dies. Next
year, the car needs new brakes. The year after, your teenager needs braces. The
funny thing is that these supposedly one-off expenses usually
end up costing about the same, Moraif says. “Look at the exceptions to see if there is a pattern so you can anticipate
the dollar amounts,” he says. “So you can build into your emergency fund the
annual unexpected component.”
3. For family meetings.Family
get-togethers can be a good opportunity to get everyone on the same page
about estate planning, medical emergency planning and other financial topics
of common interest, Ward points out. Don’t bring up these topics over
the potato salad. Instead, arrange a time and private setting in advance so no
one feels ambushed.
[Read:How to Separate Family Time From Your Finances.]
4. For the end of the year.How is your
employer doing? By now, most companies have a good idea about whether they are going to meet their growth and profit goals for 2014, Ward says. If
you work at a publicly traded company, check the investor relations website to
see the latest financial releases and projections released to
If you count on
any combination of profit sharing, bonuses and anemployer 401(k) match, does this
look likely? Adjust your own savings
rates accordingly, Ward recommends. She advises that employees save 15 percent of
their annual income for retirement, including any employer matching funds. If
the matching funds are likely to drop, see if you can increase your own
contribution to stay on track.
The holidays are on the horizon. Start
saving $20 here and $50 there so you can cover gift-giving with cash and start
2015 without a debt hangover, Moraif suggests.
5. For 2015.Take one last
look at your 2013 income tax statements. Was that the last year you will be able
to claim some credits? College, home improvement and interest deductions might
be different for the 2014 tax return. If so, do the math to make sure you have
adjusted your withholding amount accordingly.That way, you won’t end up owing taxes
because you assumed a repeat of 2013.
[See: 14 Legal Secrets for Reducing Your Taxes.]
yourself a favor and get set up for the next year’s taxes, Moraif says.Retrieve missing
documents. Get organized now so you have that information readily available for
Schedule think time now with your financial advisor or certified public accountant or both, Ward advises. They tend to be less busy at this time of year (if you can catch
them between vacations) and will probably have more time to talk through your goals.