Chapter_11

Free Financial Coaches Give the Working Poor a Second Chance.

“. . . Financial coaching initiatives that target the working poor have sprung up in communities across the country.”

For low-income wage earners, the idea of paying hundreds of dollars for professional financial help can seem about as far-fetched as buying a winning lotto ticket.  And yet, help is available in a number of the nation’s larger cities including Chicago and New York.  In most cases, the financial coaches volunteer their time and have a background in personal finance or have received financial and investment training.  The participants receive specific suggestions geared to their individual situation that are designed to improve their credit score and help them build a sound financial future.  According to Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “Having a trusted, well-informed financial coach can increase your odds of financial success.”

For more information, click here.
Note:  There is a short video that accompanies this article.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Point out that often low wage earners don’t have the money to pay a financial coach to help them manage their finances.
  • Describe different situations where the advice from a financial coach could make a difference in someone’s financial future. For example, a coach’s suggestions on how to improve someone’s credit score could lead to obtaining a credit card for emergencies or a short-term loan to bridge the gap between unemployment and employment.

Discussion Questions

  1. Assume you are unemployed and have exhausted your emergency fund.  You are behind on monthly payments including your rent and utilities.  What steps can you take to improve your financial situation?
  2. In the above situation, what suggestions do you think a financial coach could provide that would help you work through this difficult situation?
Categories: Chapter 1, Chapter_11, Financial Planning, Financial Services | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Quiz: What’s Your Financial SPF Factor?

“So put aside that beach read for a few minutes and take this quiz to assess your financial SPF factor.”

While most people recognize SPF as standing for sunscreen, SPF–as defined in this article stands for Save, Protect, and Fund.  After a brief explanation of each SPF financial term, the article asks 11 questions that someone can use to help gauge their financial knowledge and financial planning skills.

At the end of the quiz, you are also told how your answers stack up and then the article provides suggestions about how to improve not only your score, but also your ability to plan for your financial future and retirement.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Stress the importance of effective financial planning over your lifetime.
  • Begin a discussion about the benefits of long-term investments.
  • Review time value of money calculations.

Discussion Questions

  1. How can financial planning help you obtain your goals and objectives?
  2. Why should you begin investing sooner rather than later?
  3. A common problem for some people is they don’t have the money they need to begin an investment program. Given your current circumstances, what steps can you take to “find” the money to start an investment program?
Categories: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter_11, Financial Planning, Investments, Opportunity Costs, Time Value of Money | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Defrauding Investors

On May 28, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced fraud charges against William Quigley.  He is accused of creating a scheme to steal from investors and from a brokerage firm where he worked as the director of compliance.

The SEC’s Enforcement Division alleges that was involved in a scheme to solicit investors to buy stock in well-known companies or supposed start-ups on the verge of going public.  The SEC alleges that:

  • The securities were never purchased for the investors.
  • Quigley wired the money out of the country or he withdrew it from ATM’s near his home.
  • he had accomplices, two brothers who live in the Philippines.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students prepare a position paper on how to protect themselves from investment fraud.
  • Have students go to the Securities and Exchange Commission website (sec.gov) to learn how SEC protects investors and maintains fair, orderly and efficient markets.

Discussion Questions

  1. How can federal, state, and local governmental agencies protect investors from investment fraud?
  2. What punishment should be meted out to investment fraudsters?
Categories: Chapter_11, Frauds and Scams, Investments | Tags: , | Leave a comment

New Crisis Possible, But, Not Like 2008: Geithner

“Even with the challenges in the U.S. economy, America is a ‘lucky country.’ ”

During a CNBC interview, former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said the market reforms after 2008 put “much more capital into the system” and “much tougher rules on risk-taking.”  He went on to say that the reforms are strong enough, if they’re not eroded, to buy this country a relatively long period of financial stability.

Although the American economy is doing relatively well and making steady progress at the present time,     a financial crisis will happen again at some point.  Still the structural reforms undertaken after 2008 can serve to mitigate any future damage.  Mr. Geithner concludes that if a financial crisis does happen in the future, the Federal Reserve and the government would need to act again.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Discuss how the economy affects the lives of the average U.S. citizen.
  • Point out specific steps the government took to stabilize the economy and the financial markets during the economic crisis that began in 2008.

Discussion Questions

  1. How does a healthy economy affect you and your family? How does a weak economy affect you and your family?
  2. At a time when many people believe the government is too involved in the lives of individuals and business, should the government take steps to stabilize the economy and financial markets during an economic downturn? Explain your answer.
Categories: Chapter 1, Chapter_11, Financial Planning | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Why Should I Invest?

“Simply put, you want to invest in order to create wealth.  It’s relatively painless, and the rewards are plentiful. “

This article from The Motley Fool website explains why investing is a smart idea.  The article begins with information about the importance of goals.  Then asks the question, “What are you saving for?”.  The article also explains the power of compounding and provides specific examples to illustrate how time, rate of return, and age can make a tremendous difference.

The article also summarizes 9 common pitfalls to avoid including: doing nothing, starting late, investing before paying down credit card debt, etc.

Note:  this is one of a series of articles provided by The Motley Fool website.  Hopefully, students will use this article as a starting point and will use more of the educational materials available on this site.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Stress the importance of beginning a savings and investment program sooner rather than later.
  • Explain the power of compounding examples in this article to illustrate the difference in potential returns.
  • Discuss the 9 common pitfalls that often keep people from starting a savings and investment program.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the advantages of starting an investment program sooner rather than later?
  2. Where can you get the money you need to begin a savings and investment program?
  3. What do you consider the biggest pitfall that keeps you from starting a savings and investment program?
Categories: Chapter 1, Chapter_11, Investments, Opportunity Costs, Time Value of Money | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

How Much You Have to Earn to Be Considered Middle Class in Every US State

“Pew defined middle class households as those earning 67%-200% of a state’s median income.”

A recent analysis from Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline blog found that the middle class shrunk in every state in the U.S. between the years of 2000 and 2013–the most recent data available.  This article by Libby Kane and Andy Kiersz also provides a detailed table that displays the median income and middle class incomes for each of the 50 states.  Finally, the information in this article points out that the definition of middle class often depends on where you live.  For example, you can feel middle class even if you earn$250,000 a year in some areas of the country which is about five times the $52,250 median income for the entire United States.

For more information, click here. 

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Discuss what it means to be middle class in the United States.
  • Stress how income relates to financial planning, investing, and the time value of money.

Discussion Questions

  1. While the median income for the United States is $52,250, the median income and the middle class incomes for each state vary. What factors account for the difference in these income amounts from one state to the next?
  2. Assume you are offered a new position within your company that will pay $6,000 more than your current annual salary. If you take the new position, you will have more responsibility and it will require that you work longer hours and travel away from home and family on a regular basis.  Do you feel the extra money is worth the changes that will be required if you take the new position?
  3. If you decide to take the new higher-paying position, what would you do with the extra money?
Categories: Chapter 1, Chapter_11, Economy, Investments, Opportunity Costs | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How This Couple Retired in Their 30s to Travel the World

This is a very interesting interview that describes how one young couple decided to take charge of their finances, pay off their debts, and accumulate a nest egg to fund an early retirement.    

When Jeremy graduated from college, he started working for Motorola and earned $40,000 a year.  But his desire to keep up with his friends, family, and co-workers led him to buy a new car and a three-bedroom home.  He was quickly in debt, but fortunately he realized he wanted to live debt free.

Using an interview format, this article describes the steps Jeremy (38) and Winnie (33) took to save enough money to retire while they were in their 30s.  It also describes their current lifestyle and how they spend their money and time since they retired.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Explore why people often feel the need to keep up with friends, family, and co-workers.
  • Discuss the specific steps that Jeremy and Winnie took to take control of their finances.

Discussion Questions

  1. What steps did Jeremy and Winnie take to get out of debt? Would you be willing to take these steps in order to live debt free?
  2. Once Jeremy and Winnie were debt free, what techniques did they use to save and invest their money?
  3. Jeremy and Winnie retired in their 30s. Does the idea of retiring in your 30s or 40s, or 50s appeal to you?  Explain your answer.
Categories: Chapter 1, Chapter_11, Investments, Opportunity Costs, Retirement Planning, Time Value of Money | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Inside Warren Buffett’s Childhood Home

“Within these hallowed halls live the memories of Buffett buying his first stock–six shares of Cities Service.” 

Warren Buffett is known for being frugal.  His conservative, frugal nature may have started in his childhood home.  This article provides a link to a video that provides a bit of history about Warren Buffett and allows you to tour the home where Buffett bought his first stock–six shares of Cities Service.  It’s also the place where he cooked up one of his first business plans to buy a six-pack of Coca-Cola for a quarter and sell sodas for a nickel each.  Take a look and enjoy a bit of history about the second-richest man in America.

For more information, click here. 

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Explore some of the reasons why Warren Buffett has been successful not only in investing, but also in life.

Discussion Questions

  1. Warren Buffett started investing when he was very young. He purchased six shares of Cities Service stock.  From that first investment, he went on to build an empire.  What advice do you think Mr. Buffett would give a beginning investor today?
  2. Mr. Buffett is so rich that he could buy just about anything in the world. And yet, he is still known for being frugal.  How do you think this frugal nature affects his investment philosophy and his lifestyle?
Categories: Chapter_11, Investments | Tags: , | Leave a comment

3 Ways to Diversify Retirement Savings Beyond Stocks

“Reluctant to put more of your hard-earned money aboard the roller coaster known as the stock market?  Then it may be a good idea to diversify your retirement savings with other assets, which can reduce your overall risk.”

In this article, Cliff Goldstein suggests three different alternatives that could help you increase the diversification in your investment portfolio.  Of course each investment alternative–real estate, peer-to-peer lending, and precious metals–comes with risks that should be carefully considered before making any decisions.  Along with the potential risks for each investment, the advantages of each investment  alternative are described in this article.

For more information, click here

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Reinforce why investors should use asset allocation to diversify their investments.
  • Point out the reasons why some people choose real estate, peer-to-peer lending, and precious metals in place of or in addition to more traditional investment alternatives.

Discussion Questions

  1. Pick one of the investment alternatives in this article–real estate, peer-to-peer lending, or precious metals. What are the advantages of the investment you chose?  What are the disadvantages of the same investment?

2.  Assuming you had $75,000 to invest.  Would you use one of the three investment alternatives described in this article or would you prefer a more traditional investment in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds?  Explain your answer.

Categories: Chapter_11, Investments | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Newly Married with $52,000 of Debt

My Wife and I Never Discussed Money Before Getting Married–and Ended Up with $52,000 of Debt

Prior to tallying up our debt, we’d talked about traveling internationally, starting a family, and, some day retiring comfortably. There was so much we wanted out of life, but . . .”

This is an excellent article that describes what can happen when a soon-to-be-married couple doesn’t talk about finances.  Fortunately, the two people in this article–Deacon and Kim Hayes–realized they had a problem and then took steps to get their finances back on track.

Specific steps this couple took can make a big difference over time.  Among the suggestions included in this article are:

  • Writing down all your assets, debts, income, and expenses.
  • Prepare a budget and review each item for opportunities to save money.
  • Replacing a newer, expensive car with an older car.
  • Selling unwanted or unneeded items online.
  • Using any extra money to repay debt.
  • Establishing an emergency fund.
  • Saving and investing a specific amount each month.

Consider This:  Deacon Hayes–the author of this article–became a financial planner and now shares his story with his clients.

For more information, Click Here

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to

  • Discuss why engaged couples need to discuss their finances before they get married.
  • Stress how easy it is to get in debt and how hard and how much time it takes to get out of debt.

Discussion Questions

  1. Assume you are dating someone who seems to spend more than they make. In this situation, would you continue to date this person?  Explain your answer.
  2. One of the suggestions included in this article is that people write down their assets, debts, income, and expenses. How can this suggestion help a young-married couple plan their financial future?
  3. Assume you have credit card debts and an automobile loan that total $75,000. What specific steps can you take to reduce or eliminate your debt?
Categories: Budget, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 5, Chapter_11, Debt, Financial Planning, Financial Planning Topics, Investments, Savings | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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