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Reducing Impulse Buying

All buying decisions fall into two categories: (1) items we need; and (2) items we want. Financial difficulties often occur when the categories are blurred. People try to convince themsleves that things they WANT are things they NEED, when often that is not the situation. Our true needs involve a fairly short list:  food, air, water, shelter, health care (including health insurance), clothing, and maybe…Internet access.

However, Internet access can be basis of our financial troubles. Time spent browsing online can result in many unneeded purchases.  How might you avoid this?  The following suggestions are offered:

  • Don’t buy an item right away. Delaying a purchase allows you to consider the value more carefully.
  • Review the purchases you delayed for at least a month to determine if the urge to buy the item still exists, and if the money is available.
  • Delete from your “wish list” any items that you no longer desire to buy.
  • Consider returning an item, as allowed, when the purchase does not meet your expectations.

For additional information on reducing impulse buying, go to:

Link #1

Link #2

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students describe purchases that might have been avoided using the suggestions above.
  • Have students talk to others to create a list of methods to reduce impulse buying.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Why are some people continually involved with impulse buying?
  2. What are the short-term and long-term financial consequences of impulse buying?
Categories: Chapter 6, Uncategorized, Wise Shopping | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Online Shopping: Tips to keep close to your wallet

Online shopping makes it easy and convenient to search for – and buy – the must have items on your wish list.  Before you buy, follow these tips on avoiding hassles, getting the right product at the right price, and protecting your financial information.

To make sure you’re getting the best deal, compare products.  Do research online, check product comparison sites, and read online reviews.

Confirm that the seller is legit.  Look for reviews about their reputation and customer service, and be sure you can contact the seller if you have a dispute.

Pay by credit card to ensure added protections, and never mail cash or wire money to online sellers.

Keep records of online transactions until you get the goods.

Report online shopping fraud.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students if they have shopped online. If so, what have been their experiences?
  • Why is it important to confirm the online seller’s physical address and phone number?
  • If you return an item, who pays the shipping costs or restocking fee?

Discussion Questions

  1. What should you do if you get an e-mail or pop-up message that asks for your financial information while you are browsing?
  2. Why is it important to read the seller’s description of the product closely, especially the fine print?
  3. Why is e-mail not a secure method of transmitting financial information, such as, your credit card, checking account, or Social Security number?
  4. Where can you file a complaint to report online shopping fraud?
Categories: Chapter 6, Frauds and Scams, Uncategorized, Wise Shopping | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Chip Card Scams

Scammers are taking advantage of millions of consumers who haven’t yet received a chip card.  For example, scammers are e-mailing people, posing as their card issuer.  The scammers claim that in order to issue a new chip card, they need to update your account by confirming some personal information or clicking on a link to continue the process.  Information received can be used to commit identify theft.  If they click on the link, they may unknowingly install malware on your device.

How can you tell if the e-mail is from a scammer?

  • There is no reason your card issuer needs to contact you by e-mail or by phone to confirm personal information before sending you a new chip card number.
  • Still not sure if the e-mail is a scam? Contact your card issuers at phone numbers on your cards.
  • Don’t trust links in e-mails. Only provide personal information through a company’s website if you typed in the web address yourself and you see that the site is secure, like a URL that begins https (the “s” stands for secure).

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to visit other identify theft websites, such as, consumer.gov/idtheft, to learn what to do if your identity is stolen.
  • Ask students to compile a list of what actions can they take to ensure that their credit/debit cards and other financial information are secure.

Discussion Questions

  1. How do you discover that someone has stolen your identity?
  2. What steps can you take to thwart identity thieves?
Categories: Chapter 5, Frauds and Scams, Identity Theft, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Fake Payday Loan Debts

In September 2015, the Federal Trade Commission banned Kirit Patel and his company, Broadway Global Masters, from the debt collection business. Patel and his company illegally collected more than $5.2 million in fake payday loan debts.  He also pleaded guilty to the Department of Justice on charges of criminal mail and wire fraud.  Specifically, Patel’s company:

  • Called people and pushed them to pay debts they didn’t really owed,
  • Posed as law enforcement and fake government agencies like the “Federal Crime Unit of the Department of Justice”,
  • Threatened to sue or arrest people—or tell their family and employers about a debt, and
  • Recited people’s Social Security and bank account numbers to seem legit.

So how can you tell if you’re being targeted by a fake debt collector?  A caller may be a fake debt collector if:

  • You don’t recognize the debt,
  • You can’t get a mailing address or phone number for the collector,
  • You’re asked for personal financial or sensitive information, and
  • You’re threatened with arrest or told you’ll be reported to a law enforcement agency.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to prepare a list of steps they should take if they receive a call from a debt collection agency.
  • Encourage students to visit a local office of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service. What assistance is available if the debt is legitimate, but the debt collector is not?

Discussion Questions

  1. What can governmental agencies do to stop scammers from bilking honest and innocent people?
  2. Why is it important to obtain and review your free credit reports at least once a year?
Categories: Chapter 5, Debt, Frauds and Scams, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Your Student Loan Bill?

“New data shows that 11.3 percent of student loans were delinquent at the end of 2014–double the rate just 10 years ago.”

Today many students graduate with substantial student loan debt and struggle to make payments–especially when they are just entering the workforce.   While tempting to default on students loans, there are serious long-term consequences.   For example

  1. Your credit score will tank once your payment is 45-90 days late.
  2. You could wind up in default after 270 days, and the lender can ask for the unpaid balance in full and your account could be given to a collection agency.
  3. If you default on federal loan payments, Uncle Sam can take your tax return.
  4. The federal government can take up to 15 percent of your wages if you default on student loans.
  5. If someone consigned your loan, they also suffer the consequences for late payments or a default.

For someone who has fallen behind on student loan payments, the article also provides suggestions that can help get back on track.

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 making student loan payments on time.
  • Discuss the consequences of missing payments or defaulting on a student loan.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is it important to make student loan payments on time?
  2. What are the consequences of defaulting on a student loan?
  3. Assume you are behind on your student loan payments. What steps can you take to find the money needed to make student loan payments and eventually pay off a student loan?
Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

5 Questions to Help You Get Your Financial Life in Order

“Rather than making resolutions . . . try answering the following five questions today, with a plan to answer them again when 2015 comes to a close.”

In this MarketWatch article, Chuck Jaffe poses the following 5 questions to help people gauge their financial health.

  1. What’s your net worth?
  2. How many times your current (or last) salary do you have in retirement savings?
  3. What’s your debt-payment burden?
  4. If you don’t see the next New Year, what would happen to your family financially?
  5. When reviewing your finances, what is the single thing that makes you feel the best? The worst?

In addition to the questions, Mr. Jaffe also provides information that can be used to improve a person’s answers  to each question with the goal of helping people manage their personal finances and improve their financial life.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

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

  • Discuss each question with your students and explain how their answers can impact their personal financial decision making and financial security?
  • Ask students to answer one or more of the questions in this article as an assignment.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is your net worth, salary, savings, and debt-payment burden important?
  2. What implications does the question “If you don’t see the next New Year, what would happen to your family financially?” have on your financial planning activities?
  3. When you look at your finances, what makes you feel good and what makes you feel bad? Based on your answer, what can you do to change your answers to this question?
Categories: Chapter 2, Chapter_11, Financial Planning, Savings, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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