Wise Shopping

Paying for College

It’s more important than ever for students and former students to make smart decisions about financing their college education.  Whether you are attending college soon, are a current student, or already have student loans, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has put together some tools and resources to help you make the best decisions for you.

If you are considering student loans to help pay for school, you not alone—many students need loans to cover their full cost of attendance.  If you have to take out student loans, comparing your options can help you find the student loan best suited for your needs.

Consumer financial Protection Bureau has prepared student financial guides, financial aid shopping sheet adopted by more than 500 colleges and universities, and other helpful information on its website.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

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

  • Help students appreciate that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau overseas private lenders, debt collectors, and loan services that manage borrowers’ payments and billings.
  • Describe why one-in-four student loan borrowers are past due or in default on a student loan.

Discussion Questions

  1. When borrowers default on a student loan, what might be some adverse consequences on their credit?
  2. Do you believe the student loan market lacks consistent standards that cover the servicing of all private and federal student loans?
  3. What can the federal and state governments to protect consumers in this market?
Categories: Debt, Wise Shopping, _Appendix A | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Comparing Renting vs. Buying Your Home

While more people are renting in recent years due to various economic and household situations, home ownership is still a financial goal for many.  A financial comparison between renting and buying often overlooks various factors.  An online calculator may be used to consider buying items such as the opportunity cost of investing your down payment (along with the taxes on capital gains), condo or home association fees, maintenance costs, and, of course, the tax benefits of property taxes and mortgage interest.  On the rental side, the calculator considers initial costs (such as a security deposit and any broker’s fee) along with the opportunity costs of the initial costs and recurring costs, such as renter’s insurance.

For additional information on calculating the renting vs. buying your home, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students ask people to describe factors that affected whether they own or rent their housing.
  • Have students conduct a personal financial analysis for renting and buying a place to live.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What are benefits and drawbacks of renting and buying a place to live?
  2. Describe financial factors that might be overlooked when comparing renting and buying a place to live.
Categories: Chapter 7, Financing a Home, Home Buying, Wise Shopping | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Ways to Reduce Environmental Impact and Save Money

To save money and help improve the environment, 20SomethingFinance.com suggests that you:

  • grow your own food and buy from local sources.
  • replace meat in meals with beans and vegetables.
  • bring your own containers to buy bulk items.
  • use refillable drink bottles.
  • ride a bike instead of driving.
  • use a low-flow showerhead.
  • sell items not being used; buy used items instead of new.

For additional information on saving the environment and money, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students ask people to describe environmental-saving actions commonly used.
  • Have students create a promotional plan to create awareness of money-saving actions that are also environmental friendly.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What are benefits and drawbacks of environmental-saving actions?
  2. What factors might be considered when taking actions that save money and improve the environment?
Categories: Budget, Chapter 2, Chapter 6, Purchasing Strategies, Wise Shopping | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Tips and tricks for Impulse purchases

You are in line at your local grocery store and all the snacks, candy, and cheap gadgets are beckoning to be picked up and added to your shopping bag.  You are shopping on-line and you only need to spend $8 more to get free shipping.  How do you avoid falling prey to impulse buying?  How are marketers reducing friction to get you to buy more stuff?  As a consumer, factoring in additional transaction costs will help you avoid making impulse purchases.

The following article provides way to help you avoid adding impulse purchases, such as:

  1. Carrying cash.
  2. Making it a struggle to get out your credit card.
  3. No more one-click purchasing.
  4. No more e-tailer memberships.
  5. Having an accountability buddy.

Teaching Suggestions

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

  • Stress the importance of carefully watching your spending.
  • Have the students record all purchases for one week and see how much money is spent by the class in total on impulse purchases.
  • Stress the importance of having a budget and sticking to it.

Discussion Questions

  1.  Ask students to recall a time when they were able to resist the urge to make impulse purchases. What were some techniques that they used?
  2. Poll students about e-tailer memberships, such as Amazon. Why did they choose to acquire the membership?  Free shipping? On-demand viewing options.
Categories: Budget, Chapter 6, Financial Planning, Wise Shopping | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Want to save money on gas?

Gas prices have been low for a few years but, it is always good to save a few more dollars!

What if you are in a new city?  Gas prices can vary by 10-15 cents per gallon in a matter of a few blocks.  How would you know where to find the cheapest gas?  Good news!  The GasBuddy app can help you find the best prices on the go.

Use this article to help you save gas money near home or away.

Did you know that you can?

  1. Use apps to find the best prices no matter where you are.
  2. Get cheaper gas by buying at certain times of day.
  3. Improve your driving and save gas money.
  4. Maintain your vehicle and save gas money.
  5. Get more rewards with your gas prices.

Teaching Suggestions

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

  • Stress the importance of saving small and large amounts of money.
  • Calculate the miles a sample of students have driven in the past year and multiply by varying amounts saved (5-15 cents per gallon) to demonstrate the dollar savings potential.
Categories: Budget, Chapter 6, Financial Planning, Wise Shopping | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Low Gas Prices Are Set to Spur Holiday Spending

“Falling gas prices have put consumers in a good mood.”

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), more than 4 in 5 Americans indicate falling gas prices impact their feelings about the nation’s economy and as a result they will spend more during the upcoming holiday season.  In fact, more than one in four consumers (26 percent) expect to increase their spending during the 2015 holiday season–a 7-point jump over the past month and the highest percentage this year.  Also the survey finds that women are more optimistic than men.  For retailers, this statistic is even more encouraging because women do more holiday shopping when compared to men.

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 holiday spending impacts a family’s budget.
  • Describe methods that consumers can use to save the money and budget for holiday spending.

Discussion Questions

  1. Does the price of gasoline affect your spending on other items such as food, clothing, medicine, luxury items, and gifts?
  2. How can you avoid spending “too much” during the holiday season?
  3. What steps can you take to save the money needed for gifts and other holiday expenses?
Categories: Budget, Chapter 2, Chapter 6, Economy, Purchasing Strategies, Wise Shopping | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Revising Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps

Dave Ramsey has taught and encouraged millions to get out of debt and to achieve an improved financial situation through his “seven baby steps,” which are: (1) establish a $1,000 emergency fund; (2) pay off debt; (3) save three to six months of expenses; (4) invest 15 percent of income in pre-tax retirement funds; (5) plan for the funding of the college education of children; (6) pay off mortgage as soon as possible; (7) build wealth and give.

An alternative perspective to this approach might be:

  1. Create a larger initial emergency fund.
  2. Instead of paying off the smallest debts first, pay off the ones with the highest interest.
  3. A minimum of six months for expenses is needed, with twelve months more realistic.
  4. Take advantage of any 401k matching offered by employers.
  5. College may not be the right educational choice for everyone. Also, those who go to college should be responsible for a portion of education costs.
  6. Home ownership may not be appropriate for everyone. When buying a home, paying off a mortgage may be a higher priority than saving for college to reduce the amount of interest paid.
  7. Making money, saving money, and donating to charity should be the main focus.

For additional information on personal financial planning actions, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students survey others regarding their use of these personal financial planning suggestions.
  • Have students obtain additional financial planning suggestions using online research.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What do you believe are the most important actions that should be taken regarding wise personal financial planning?
  2. How would you communicate these financial planning actions to others?
Categories: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Credit Cards, Debt, Financial Planning, Wise Shopping | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Auto Insurance Resources

Having adequate auto insurance and determining what coverages are needed are fundamental for avoiding financial difficulties. Consumer Action (www.consumer-action.org) offers a variety of materials related to shopping for auto insurance, managing auto insurance costs, and obtaining assistance when encountering trouble when filing a claim.

These resources includes downloadable publications on the basics of auto insurance in English, Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese. Also available are PowerPoint slides and lessons plans.

For additional information on auto insurance resources, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students develop actions that can reduce the cost of auto insurance.
  • Have students create a video that demonstrates financial problems associated with not having adequate auto insurance.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What are information sources that might be used to become better informed on auto insurance?
  2. How might a person reduce the cost of auto insurance?
Categories: Car Insurance, Chapter 8, insurance, Wise Shopping | Tags: | Leave a comment

The Supreme Court, Health Care, and You

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court made an important decision about the Health Insurance Marketplace keeping           quality, affordable coverage for millions of Americans.  The Supreme Court’s decision confirmed that if you qualify, you can receive financial assistance, including premium tax benefit to make coverage more affordable no matter where you live.

On average, consumers enrolled in the Marketplace are receiving $3,260 per year in tax credit, or $272 each month.

About 8 in 10 consumers could find coverage for $100 or less with tax credit through the Marketplace.

If you don’t have health insurance, see if you can get health coverage for 2015.  You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to life change, such as marriage, having a baby, or losing other coverage.  Open enrollment for 2016 starts on November 1, 2015.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students if anyone in their family is affected by the Supreme Court ruling, and if so, how?
  • Ask students to prepare a summary of the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is it important to inform the Marketplace about any changes to your household, income, and insurance status?
  2. If you have health insurance through your employer or purchased it on the individual market, does the Supreme Court ruling impact you?
Categories: Chapter 9, Health Insurance, insurance, Wise Shopping | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Bitcoins or a Credit Card?

Do you shop online?  Have you seen websites that allow you to pay with bitcoins?

Beware of the Bitcoin (virtual currency) risks!!

  • Values go up and down based on demand.
  • Payments made with virtual currencies aren’t reversible.
  • You do not have the same legal protections as more traditional payment methods.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students if they have purchased products or services with bitcoins and what has been their experience.
  • Ask students if they check out the seller’s reputation before a purchase with bitcoins.

Discussion Questions

  1. Should the payment with bitcoins go directly to the seller or a payment processor?
  2. Does a payment through a payment processor offer any protections?
  3. If you receive damaged merchandise, will you get a refund in virtual currency, U.S. dollars, or store credit?
  4. If you have a problem with bitcoin-related product or service, where should you file a complaint?
Categories: Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Wise Shopping | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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