Essential Career Questions

Career planning experts offer a wide variety of guidelines for moving forward in your employment situation.  Use of the following questions can help you develop an action plan for greater career success and personal satisfaction.

  1. What do you like to learn?
  2. What do you do in your spare time for fun?
  3. Are you creating a career for your parents, for society, from your own excitement, or for money?
  4. What is your definition of work?
  5. What challenge excites you the most in your life right now?
  6. What impact do you want to have on other people’s lives or in the world?
  7. Do you feel confident that you are exceptional at something?
  8. What do you want: more joy or more power?
  9. Do you want to be like your parents? Why or why not?
  10. What do you do that builds your confidence?
  11. How often are you bored
  12. Are you proactive about sharing your ideas with your team and managers?
  13. Whom do you admire most? Are they passionate and purpose driven by their work?
  14. When you make decisions about your career, do you often consider what other people will think of your decision?
  15. What advice would you give yourself today about where you are in your career based on where you want to go?
  16. What does success mean to you?

For additional information on essential career questions, click here.

 

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students use one or more of these questions to talk to others about their career planning activities.
  • Have students prepare answers to several of these questions to help guide their career planning activities.

 Discussion Questions 

  1. Which of these questions are most valuable to you to guide your career planning activities?
  2. What are some additional questions that you might ask yourself or others to help guide their career planning?

 

Categories: _Appendix B | Tags: | Leave a comment

Monthly Actions to Save $1,000

Many people in our society are not able to save.  They are barely able to cover their monthly expenses.  However, there are some actions that can help you get on a path to saving.

In the first month, open an online bank account and deposit a minimum amount, such as $5.  This is a very important first step.  In month two, save $15 (or more) in your online savings account.  One way to do this is with Paribus, an online tool that searches various retailers to determine if you are owed money for past purchases as a result of a price drop.

Your goal for month three is to work toward savings $100.  This could be accomplished by signing up with market research companies to participate in providing opinions. Or, you could try selling old items online. By consistently using various ideas for earning extra money, you should be able to save $100 a month.

For additional information on starting a savings program, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students to talk various people to determine actions they take to reduce spending or earn extra money.
  • Have students create a summary presentation describing actions that might be taken to increase a person’s savings.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Describe attitudes and behaviors that might result in people not being able to save for the future.
  2. What are actions you have taken to reduce spending and to earn extra money for savings?
Categories: Budget, Chapter 2, Chapter 6, Wise Shopping | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Top Employee Benefits

Several companies provide benefits that go beyond the usual to serve their employees.  Some examples include:

  • IKEA offers as much as four months paid parental leave to both part-time and full-time employees after working for the company for a year.
  • Bain & Company sponsors an annual soccer tournament for employees in different locations around the world.
  • Facebook provides healthcare coverage and free housing for interns.
  • Starbucks provides full tuition reimbursement for employees for an online bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University.
  • Eventbrite offers a monthly $60 wellness stipend for use on expenses such as gym dues and juice cleanses.
  • Deloitte offers sabbatical programs. One is an unpaid one-month sabbatical, which can be taken for any reason. Another is a three- to six-month sabbatical for personal or professional growth with 40 percent pay.
  • Southwest offers employees and dependents access to Clear Skies, which provides confidential counseling and legal consultation.
  • Timberland employees can take up to 40 hours of paid time off per year to volunteer.

For additional information on unique employee benefits, click here.

 

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students talk to others about the employee benefits they believe to be most valuable for their life situation.
  • Have students suggest employee benefits that would be of value for various household and life situations.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Describe family and life situations that would be helped by various employee benefits.
  2. What are factors people might consider when determining whether to take a job with an organization?
Categories: _Appendix B | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Overdraft Opt-in or Opt-out?

Most financial institutions offer overdraft programs for checking accounts, which for a fee covers a transaction where there is not enough in the account.  However, this service can result in several fees before the next deposit is made.  For debit cards, an overdraft fee cannot be charged unless you have agreed (“opted in”) to these fees.

To reduce or eliminate overdraft fees, these actions are suggested:

  1. carefully track your balance; sign up for low-balance alerts
  2. check your balance when making a debit card purchase; also consider other checks that may not yet cleared
  3. do not opt-in to an overdraft program for your debit card, or opt-out if you are currently opted in; while your debit/ATM may be declined, you will avoid high fees
  4. link your checking account to a savings account to cover overdrafts
  5. contact your financial institution to determine if you are eligible for a line of credit or a linked credit card to cover overdrafts
  6. compare account fees at other financial institutions

Complaints related to overdraft fees or other financial services may be submitted at   http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/ or by calling 855-411-2372.

For additional information on overdraft programs, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students search online or contact the costs associated with overdraft fees at various financial institutions.
  • Have students prepare a creative presentation describing actions to take to avoid overdraft fees.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Describe situations that might result in overdraft fees.
  2. What are methods to take to avoid overdraft fees?
Categories: Chapter 4, Debit Cards, Financial Services | Tags: , | Leave a comment

IRS: Protect Yourself from Telephone Scammers

Recently, there have been numerous calls from the “IRS” threatening you with lawsuits or jail sentences unless you pay up immediately.  Don’t be a victim.  The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by e-mail, text message or social media channels to request personal or financial information.  This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

Remember, the IRS will never

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first sending you a bill.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for a credit or debit card number over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

For more information,click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students if they have received a call from the “IRS” impersonators. If so, what was their response?
  • Have students visit irs.gov and click on Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts to learn what the agency is doing to stop these annoying calls.

Discussion Questions

  1. What should do if you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and you know you don’t owe any taxes?
  2. Who should you contact to report such calls from the imposters?
Categories: Chapter 3, Taxes | Tags: | Leave a comment

The Credit Repair Organizations Act

The Credit Repair Organization Act (CROA) makes it illegal for credit repair companies to lie about what they can do for you, and to charge you before they’ve performed their services.  The CROA is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and requires credit repair companies to explain:

  • your legal rights in a written contract that also details the services they’ll perform,
  • your three day right to cancel without with any charge,
  • how long will it take to get results,
  • the total cost you will pay, and
  • any guarantees.

What if a credit repair company you hired doesn’t live up to its promises?  You have some options.  You can:

  • sue them in federal court for your actual losses or for what you paid them, whichever is more,
  • seek punitive damages—money to punish the company for violating the law,
  • join other people in a class action lawsuit against the company, and if you win, the company has to pay your attorney’s fees.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to make a list of major provisions of the Credit Repair Organization Act.
  • Ask students if there is a time limit on reporting negative information about criminal convictions.

Discussion Questions

  1. Where and how can you report credit repair frauds?
  2. Can the FTC resolve individual credit disputes? If not, why should you file the complaint with the FTC?
Categories: Chapter 5, Credit Scores | Tags: , | Leave a comment

IRS: Protect Yourself Online

The Internal Revenue Service, the states and the tax industry urge taxpayers to take steps to protect themselves online in the fight against identity theft.  Scammers, hackers and identity thieves are stealing taxpayers’ personal information and ultimately their money.  But, there are simple steps you can take to help protect yourselves, like keeping computer software up-to-date and being cautious about giving out your personal information.

Here are some best practices you can follow to protect your tax and financial information, click here.

  1. Understand and Use Security Software. Security software helps protect computers against the digital threats that are prevalent online.  The operating system will include security software from well-known companies or Internet providers.
  2. Allow Security Software to Update Automatically. Set security software to update automatically.  Malware–malicious software—evolves constantly, and your security software suite updates routinely to keep pace.
  3. Look for the “S.” When shopping or banking online, always ensure that the site uses encryption to protect your information.  Look for “https” at the beginning of the web address.
  4. Use Strong Passwords. Use passwords of eight or more characters, mixing letters, numbers and special characters.  Don’t use your name, birthdate or common words.
  5. Secure Wireless Networks. A wireless network sends a signal through the air that allows it to connect to the Internet.  If your home or business Wi-Fi is unsecure, it also allows any computer within range to access your wireless and potentially steal information from your computer.
  6. Be Cautious When Using Public Wireless Networks. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are convenient but often not secured.
  7. Avoid E-mail Phishing Attempts. Never reply to an emails, text or pop-up messages asking for personal, tax or financial information.  Never click on links even if they seem to be from organizations you trust.  Instead, go directly to the organization’s website.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students which best practices they follow to protect their tax and financial information. Make a list and share it with other students.
  • Ask students to make a list of essential software tools available to them for keeping their financial/tax information secure.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why it might be prudent to purchase security software programs from well-known companies or Internet providers?
  2. Where should you keep your passwords list and why?
Categories: Chapter 5, Identity Theft | Tags: | Leave a comment

How to Get the Best Mortgage Rate

“Finding the right mortgage (and how to get the best mortgage rate can be a confusing process–especially for first time home-buyers.”

Buying a home is a huge financial commitment.  In this article, Deborah Kearns discusses the following six questions that can help you decide which is the right mortgage for you.

  1. Should I get a fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage?
  2. Should I pay for points?
  3. How much should I expect to pay in closing costs?
  4. Do I qualify for any special programs?
  5. How much can and should I put down?
  6. Any other insights on how to get the best mortgage rate?

Each question provides detailed information to help you answer the question and find the right home mortgage financing needed to purchase the home of your dreams.

For more information, click here. 

Teaching Suggestions

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

  • Help students understand the importance of purchasing a home they can afford after all other home ownership costs–taxes, utilities, repairs, etc. are considered.
  • Stress the necessity of “shopping” for a home mortgage and comparing both term of the mortgage and the effect of interest rates on total financing costs.

Discussion Questions

  1. What factors affect the cost of financing a home that you would like to purchase?
  2. How important is good credit when purchasing a home? Does it really make a difference if you have a good credit score or a bad credit score?  Explain your answer.
  3. What steps can you take to make sure that you are getting the lowest interest rate when you finance your home?
Categories: Chapter 7, Financing a Home, Home Buying | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Single Best Question to Ask in a Job Interview

“What did you do to prepare for this interview?”

According to CNBC contributor and author Suzy Welch, the above question is the most important question that a manager can ask and the best question a prospective employee can answer.  She explains she has asked this question for years and is always surprised at the answers she gets from prospective employees–answers that are the good, the bad, and the ugly.  One answer stands out.  When asked what she did to prepare for the job interview as my personal assistant, the applicant answered, I’ve been stalking you for three days.  Welch loved the answer because stalking  involved reading virtually everything she could find written about Welch plus reading and scanning everything I’ve ever written online and in print.

Not all answers display the passion that a job applicant should have.  For example, one applicant answered, “Well I drove here last night with my boyfriend so I wouldn’t get lost today.”  Not an answer that would demonstrate the kind of passion and curiosity and most importantly, the resourcefulness Welch was looking for.

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 doing some detective work when preparing for a job interview.
  • Point out there are many websites that can help job applicants prepare for a job interview.

Discussion Questions

  1. Assume you unemployed and have scheduled a job interview with a human resources manager for a bank teller position at a local Bank of America branch. What would you do to prepare for your interview?
  2. What traits or skills do you have that would make the bank want to hire you for this position? How can you tell or illustrate your traits and skills during the interview process?
Categories: Career, Chapter 1, _Appendix A | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

New Service at Social Security

In December 2016, Social Security launched a new service for my Social Security account holders where they can check on the status of an application for benefits or an appeal filed with Social Security.  The service provides detailed information about retirement, disability, survivors, Medicare, and Supplemental Security Income claims and appeals filed either online at socialsecuarity.gov or with a Social Security employee.

The ability to check your application status is available online to everyone who has or opens a secure my Social Security.  You can open an account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.  The service provides important information about your claim or appeal including

  • date of filing,
  • current claim location,
  • scheduled hearing date and time, and
  • claim or appeal decision.

If you are unable to open a my Social Security account you can still call 1-800-772-1213 to check your claim status by using the automated system using the confirmation number you received when you filed your claim.

For more information click here.

Teaching Suggestions

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

  • Stress the importance of learning about my Social Security and other services provided by the Social Security Administration.
  • Encourage students to visit the Social Security website and open a my Social Security account.

Discussion Questions

  1. What might be some advantages of opening my Social Security account?
  2. What might be some drawbacks to open my Social Security account?
  3. Can hackers get into your my Social Security account?
Categories: Chapter_14, Retirement Planning | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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