Financial Security and Longevity

While Americans are living longer and healthier lives, they also are facing more financially fragile situations. Uncertainty related to financial health in the later years of life has become more common. Lower, less predictable incomes among those retiring within 10 years has resulted in difficulty paying their bills. This group also reports a lower net worth. In 2013, the typical 56- to 61-year-old had an average of $17,000 in retirement savings. This lower level of net worth is partially the result of higher levels of debt than the previous generation. This debt is in the form of higher mortgages and education loans, including amounts owed for their children’s education.

To address these concerns, several policy actions are proposed:

  • Requiring and supporting strategies for to build effective financial capability, including coaching and workforce development programs.
  • Tax policies and other incentives that encourage savings and investment among lower-income and lower-wealth families.
  • Policies to increase educational opportunities without excessive debt.
  • Efforts for protection from financial difficulties caused by medical catastrophe.
  • Policies for improved housing stability of both owners and renters.

For additional information on financial security and longevity, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students interview people to determine common actions used to save for retirement.
  • Have students create a presentation to suggest action for improved financial security for various income levels.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What are some financial pressures faced by households as people approach retirement age?
  2. What actions might government and business take to reduce the financial pressures of people approaching retirement age?

 

BAM banned from debt collection

In late July 2016, filed as part of Operation Collection Protection, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged that BAM Financial used lies, threats, intimidation, and other illegal practices to extract payments from consumers.  When obscene language, incessant calls, and harassment of family members didn’t get the results they wanted, the defendants got personal.  For instance, the defendants told the parent of one purported debtor “No wonder your daughter is in such predicament with a mother like you.”  The FTC alleges that they falsely stated to another consumer’s 84-year-old mother that they had a warrant for her daughter’s arrest and later told the consumer they were bounty hunters.

The FTC says BAM’s letters and phone calls were riddled with false threats of litigation.  The complaint also charged that in numerous instances, the defendants didn’t follow up within five days of their initial communications with proper validation notices as the law requires.

The settlement with BAM Financial, Everton Financial, Legal Financial Consulting, Luis O. Carrera, and Robert Llaury bans them for life from debt collection agency industry.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students what consumer rights they have when dealing with debt collection agencies.
  • Ask students to list important provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Discussion Questions

  1. Nearly 30 million Americans have their accounts in collection, and debt collectors make as many as one billion contacts with people every year. Are these contacts legal?
  2. What types of debts are covered under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
  3. How can you stop a debt collector from contacting you?

Eight Measurements of Financial Health

The Center for Financial Services Innovation has identified eight indicators to measure financial health. These measurements can serve as a framework for guiding individuals and financial service providers toward an improved quality of life for consumers.

The eight indicators of financial health, presented in four categories, are:

SPEND

  1. Difference between income and expenses
  2. Percent of bills that are paid on time and in full

SAVE

  1. Number of months of living expenses in liquid account balances
  2. Amount of one’s long-term savings, assets, and investments

BORROW

  1. Debt-to-income ratio
  2. Credit score or credit quality tier

PLAN

  1. Type and extent of insurance coverage
  2. Behaviors that demonstrate future financial orientation

For additional information on financial health indicators, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students ask people to describe what is meant by “financial health.”
  • Have students create a list of actions that might be taken to achieve financial health.

 Discussion Questions 

  1. What are additional factors that might be considered when measuring a person’s financial health?
  2. What actions are you taking to achieve financial health?

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?

What is Your Teaching Style?

Every teacher has a distinctive style that will hopefully engage students in the learning process and help them develop critical thinking skills.  As traditional teaching styles are adapted to meet the needs of varied students, consider these five main classroom strategies:

  1. Authority, or lecture style, is teacher-centered and may be appropriate for certain topics and settings. However, little or no interaction with the teacher may limit learning effectiveness.
  1. Demonstrator, or coach style, allows teachers show key concepts with the use of lectures, visuals, media, and exhibits. This approach may be difficult to implement in larger classrooms.
  1. Facilitator, or activity style, promotes self-learning and develops critical thinking skills, such as training students to ask questions and obtain skills to find answers.
  1. Delegator, or group style, provides opportunities for guided discovery and problem-based learning. The teacher serves as an observer role with students working toward a common goal.
  1. Hybrid, or blended style, offers an integrated approach to coordinate the personality of the teacher with the interests and needs of students.

Most important, is the engagement of students in the learning process along with a teaching style to address the needs of diverse students.

For additional information on teaching styles, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to describe learning environments that were most effective for them.
  • Conduct a personal assessment to determine the teaching style that might best fit your situation.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What are potential benefits and concerns for various teaching styles in your class setting?
  2. How do the various teaching styles best fit your personality and your students?

Pokémon Go Can Cost You

Pokémon Go has resulted in a loss of money and other concerns.  In this popular game, users interact virtually with Pokémon characters placed in real world settings. The app is free to download, however there are in-app purchasing opportunities. Players are encouraged to pay for hints and tips for a competitive advantage.

In addition to financial losses, the Pokémon Go app has been used to lure robbery victims.  Other players have been robbed of their phones.  Police departments caution players to be aware of their surroundings.

Be warned that “free isn’t the same as no cost.”  Users may pay in the form of data use, legal confrontations, injuries, and reduced work productivity.  Higher insurance costs can also occur when playing the game while driving, which might result in an auto accident. Social concerns include disturbing church services and other occasions with players capturing creatures during the events.

For additional information on the cost of Pokémon Goclick here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students suggest ways that an app game might be used for improved learning or assisting others in need.
  • Have students describe safety precautions when playing Pokémon Go.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Why are people attracted to the game, often with a personal or financial cost?
  2. What actions might be taken to avoid the financial and personal dangers of the game?

Scams, Frauds, and Consumer Complaints

Based on a recent study, chip-enabled cards used without appropriate technology and tax ID theft are the fastest-growing and most costly consumer complaints.  People are often contacted by someone claiming to be from the IRS, a utility company, or a tech-support company, and asked to send money or provide personal information. This is a common danger sign of fraud as reported in a recent study of consumer complaints by the Consumer Federation of American and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators.

This report identified the following as the top ten most common sources of consumer complaints:

  1. Motor vehicle misrepresentations in advertising along with sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes
  2. Home improvement, such as inferior work, and failure to start or complete the job
  3. Utility service problems and billing disputes
  4. Credit and debt concerns, such as billing and fee disputes, mortgage fraud, credit repair, debt-relief services, predatory lending, abusive debt-collection tactics
  5. Retail sales problems related to deceptive ads, defective goods, problems with gift cards and certificates, rebates and coupons
  6. Services with poor or incomplete work, lack of licensing
  7. Landlord-tenant concerns, such as unsafe or unhealthy conditions, lack of repairs, and unfair eviction
  8. Furniture, appliances, and household products that are faulty or not properly repaired
  9. Health products and services with misleading claims
  10. Fraud and scams, such as phony sweepstakes, work-at-home schemes, deceptive online sales

Two additional recently reported scams are the “grandparent scam,” in which a phony grandchild calls an older person claiming to need quick cash for an emergency.  With the CEO scam, employees are contacted with what appears to be an email from their company asking them to wire money to a foreign supplier for a deal that needs to close immediately with a promise to be reimbursed.

For additional information on current frauds and scams, go to:

Link #1

Link #2 

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students present a talk with actions that might be taken to avoid consumer scams.
  • Have students create a list of common consumer complaints among their friends.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Why are people often victims of consumer frauds?
  2. What are common suggestions for avoiding various consumer scams and frauds?

What If Social Security Denies Your Disability Benefits?

If Social Security denied your disability benefits, you can file an appeal online, even if you live outside of the United States.

The online appeals application is simple, convenient and secure, guiding you through every step of the process.  From outlining your rights to an appeal, to publications on the appeals process, a fair review of your Social Security is right at your fingertips.  The online application even allows you to upload supporting documentation, like treatments, doctors, and medical reports, as well as an option to save your submissions.

Submitting all the necessary documents will save time and can help return a faster decision.  Here are some things you’ll need when ready to submit an appeal:

  • Doctors, hospitals, medical treatments, and tests since you last gave medical information to Social Security,
  • Medicines you are currently taking, and
  • Changes in your medical conditions, daily activities, work and education

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students if they know someone whose disability benefits were denied? If so, how was the problem resolved?
  • What can you do if Social Security benefits are not sufficient to support your family?

Discussion Questions

  1. Does Social Security provide work incentives that allow people to work and still receive their disability benefits?
  2. Does Social Security provide benefits for partial disability or short-term disability?
  3. How does Social Security define disability?

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?

10 Job Interview Questions You Should Ask

“Many job seekers focus so hard on answering interview questions well that they forget something very important:  You are there to ask questions, too.”

In this Forbes article, Joe Konop explains why job applicants need to be proactive when they are interviewing for employment.  Specifically, you should strive to achieve three things during the interview

  • Make sure the interviewer has no reservations about you.
  • Demonstrate your interest in the employer.
  • Find out if you feel the employer is the right fit for you.

Mr. Konop also provides 10 possible questions (and the rationale for asking each question) that you could ask during an interview.  For example

  • What is the single largest problem facing your staff and would I be in a position to help you solve this problem?
  • What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?
  • What is the next step in the process?

For more information, click here.  Then enter the title of this article “10 Job Interview Questions You Should Ask” to read the actual article.

Teaching Suggestions

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

  • Help students understand that the job market is very competitive, and they must be proactive to get the employment position they want.
  • Describe how preparing for an interview can make the difference between obtaining the employment position they really want and unemployment.

Discussion Questions

  1. Choose a specific job and describe the traits that you would need to be successful.
  2. Assume you are a college senior and are interviewing for a position with a major employer in the marketing, banking, or accounting industry. How would you prepare for a job interview with this company?
  3. What factors make the difference between a good employee and a bad employee?