PREPARING FOR A RECESSION

If you stay ready…you don’t have to get ready!!  Whether or not a recession occurs, certain personal actions will be beneficial for your future.

Job loss is the most common effect of a recession. This can occur due to a layoff, furlough, or company failure.  With many people all experiencing job loss, finding a new job is difficult. For those who keep their jobs, they may experience pay cuts, reduced benefits, and no pay raises. Another major concern is the decline in value of stocks, bonds, real estate, and other assets. 

To be ready to cope if an economic downturn occurs, consider these financial strategies:

  • Monitor your monthly expenses. Know what it costs to live so there are no surprises. Be ready to pay items that occur only once a year.
  • Cut unnecessary spending. Look back at your spending to see what you could have done without. Add up what you could have avoided to make sure you spend less than you make. Possible areas to cut include cable TV, streaming services, gym membership, online music subscriptions, and a less expensive cellphone plan.
  • Start or expand your emergency fund.  No matter how small, be sure to set aside funds for poor economic times. To build your fund, have an amount automatically deposited in a saving account each month.   
  • Budget everything. Telling your money where it will go keeps you in control.    
  • Avoid debt. Just like saving, paying off debt can start small.
  • Be in contact with others to discuss possible late payments, reduced costs, cancel services, and other actions to cope financially.
  • Maintain retirement savings. Keep contributing to your retirement fund so it will be there when you need it. 

For career planning during times of recession, consider the following actions:

  • Inventory your skills, especially those that relate to essential work for your current employers and other organizations. 
  • Expand your skills through online certifications, courses, and training programs. 
  • Be adaptable. Step up to take on tasks needed within your company. 
  • Network for freelance work. Connect with others in your industry for consulting opportunities.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected. Despite taking these actions, a layoff may still occur. If that happens, expand your skills, update your resume, and connect to others through LinkedIn and community service activities.

For additional information on financial planning during a recession,

Source #1

Source #2

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students research current economic conditions to determine the status of employment and inflation.
  • Have students create a podcast to encourage others to act on the suggestions in the article.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What are the benefits of these actions during every type of economic situation?
  2. Describe actions a person might take to better understand potential career opportunities.

BUILDING WEALTH

A research study that surveyed over 10,000 millionaires resulted in the following findings to help guide others to achieve a comfortable financial security:

  • 79 percent of the respondents did not receive any inheritance; 80 percent were from families at or below a middle-class income level.
    Conclusion:Building wealth is within your control and doesn’t depend on being born into a rich family.
  • 33 percent never made more than $100,000 a year; 31 percent made around $100,000.
    Conclusion: Wise spending, saving, and investing are more important than your salary level.
  • 94 percent live on less than they make; 75 percent reported never having a credit card balance.  
    Conclusion: Stay out of debt and keep expenses below your income to build a financial foundation.
  • 75 percent of those in the study indicated consistent investing over a long period of time as the reason for their financial success; 80 percent invested in their company’s 401(k) plan; none said one individual stock investment was a big factor in their financial success. 
    Conclusion: You don’t need to find that one stock that will make you rich. Invest consistently in broad-market index funds over a long period of time.

88 percent of those who responded graduated from college, compared to 38 percent of the general population. And over half (52%) of the millionaires in the study earned a master’s or doctoral degree, compared to 13% of the general population. Almost two-thirds (62%) graduated from public state schools, while only 8 percent went to a prestigious private school.

Most of the 10,000 millionaires studied achieved their wealth through consistent investing, avoiding credit card debt, and smart spending, along with…no lottery tickets… no inheritances…no six-figure incomes…no lucky stock picks. 

Even when millionaires don’t have to worry about money anymore, they’re still careful about their spending. Over 80 percent reported using a grocery list in some format.

For additional information on building wealth, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students talk to others to obtain information about actions they take to achieve long-term financial security.
  • Have students create an oral presentation or podcast that reports the findings of the study summarized in this article.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What actions do you believe to be most important for building wealth?
  2. Describe how you might communicate to others suggested actions for improved long-term financial security.

Personal Finance Simulations for Budgeting and Investing

Question:  What is a Personal Finance simulation? 

Answer:  A Personal Finance simulation allows students to fine-tune their decisions when they encounter real-life scenarios while taking a Personal Finance course. 

The authors of Personal Finance, 14e and Focus on Personal Finance, 7e have partnered with StockTrak.com to provide students with an interactive learning experience before they leave the classroom.   

The simulation that accompanies the Kapoor Personal Finance texts includes two components–a personal budgeting simulation and an investing simulation.

The Budgeting Simulation

  • Students assume the role of a full-time employee or part-time employee living on their own.
  • Over a virtual 12-month period, students review their estimated income and expenses, create monthly budgets and savings goals, and try to build an emergency fund. Each month takes about 20 minutes to complete.
  • Each month students manage their checking, savings, and credit card accounts as they deal with life’s expected and unexpected events that affect their budget.  
  • Within the simulation, additional personal finance tutorials are available to make sure students are learning about budgeting, banking, credit, employment, taxes, insurance, and more.
  • A class ranking based on net worth, credit score, and quality of life keep the students fully engaged and professors informed of each student’s progress.

The Investing Simulation

  • Students receive a virtual $25,000 in a brokerage account.
  • They can research U.S. stocks, ETFs, bonds and mutual funds and create their own investment portfolio.
  • All investment trades are based on real-time market prices.
  • Within the simulation, interactive tutorials help students get started and provide additional information during the simulation.
  • Students can monitor their performance versus their classmates.  At the same time, professors can track each student’s progress.

And BEST of ALL, with the new partnership between Stock-Trak and McGraw Hill, classes using the Kapoor Personal Finance textbook get a 50% savings when students register for the simulation – only $9.99 per student instead of retail price of $19.99.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Visit StockTrak.com/kapoor to learn more about the Personal Finance Budgeting and Investing Simulation.  You can learn even more by watching a short video or accessing the Kapoor demo materials located toward the bottom of the above site. 
  • It’s easy to get started.  All you need to do is access the above site, register your classes for Spring 2023, and indicate the dates you want your student to have access to the Personal Finance Simulation.  The site will generate a unique link for you to give to your students.

FINANCIAL EMERGENCY KIT

In case of a natural disaster or a cyber-attack, a financial emergency kit allows you to keep running your life. These documents would prepare you for the what-ifs of life. Bottom of Form

The kit starts with knowing where your vital paperwork is stored, and where are copies kept. Two suggested storage methods are: (1) a portable, fireproof, waterproof safe, and (2) digital storage with an electronic record of account numbers and sensitive information. This information can then be accessed on your phone. Also backup your data on both an external hard drive and on a cloud service.

The important documents that you should have in both a physical and digital format are:

  • Insurance policies, insurance contact information; prescriptions, medical records
  • Birth and marriage certificates; passports; driver’s license; Social Security cards
  • Mortgage information; car registration
  • Recent tax returns; employment information
  • Wills and deeds; stocks, bonds and other negotiable certificates
  • Bank, savings. Investment, and retirement account numbers
  • Pet medical records; pet identification tags
  • Recent utility bill, school registration to prove your legal place of residence

In addition to your financial documents, also plan to have these items in your emergency kit:

  1. Water; non-perishable food; first aid kit; multi-purpose tool
  2. Flashlight; battery-powered radio; extra batteries; cellphone, charger
  3. Medications, medical items; sanitation, personal hygiene items
  4. Extra cash; contact information of family and friends
  5. Emergency blankets; maps of the area

Consider a hand-crank flashlight and radio to be able to use and charge when there’s no power.

To connect with family and others in emergency times, text instead of calling to avoid network congestion.  Use apps, social media when cell networks are overloaded.  Update your voicemail message to tell your location and status.

Be prepared with these simple things that require minimal money and a small-time investment.

For additional information on financial emergency kits, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students identify situations in which this type of emergency kit would be appropriate.
  • Have students create a visual proposal (poster or slide presentation) to communicate the elements of an emergency kit.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What are reasons people might give for not preparing an emergency kit?
  2. Describe methods that might be used to store financial documents for emergency situations.

MONEY TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST JOB

As young people get their first full-time job with a substantial paycheck, their money management activities need to be reconsidered, which include: 

1. Automate your savings. For unexpected expenses and major purchases, set aside a specific percentage or amount of your income from every paycheck. These funds should be directed to one or more dedicated accounts.  

2. Make use of different accounts. This money management strategy can help you plan for different savings goals and can prevent spending money planned for a specific purpose. Consider using a checking account to pay regular expenses, along with one or more savings accounts.

3. Start retirement saving. Start with 3 to 5 percent of your gross income, increasing to 15 percent as soon as you get raises and bonuses. These funds may be in a company-sponsored 401(k) or a personal IRA or Roth IRA.

4. Pay off debt. If you have college debt, create a plan to pay it off, especially credit card debt. Set a goal to become debt free in your 20s.

5. Practice wise spending. Minimize your transportation, housing, and clothing expenses.

For additional information on money tips for your first job, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students talk to others to obtain money management suggestions to implement when completing college and starting work.
  • Have students create a personal plan for improved money management.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Why do people start taking on more debt when starting work?
  2. Describe money management actions you might take as you complete college.

Cryptocurrency Investments Scams

Consumers reported losing over $1 billion to fraud involving cryptocurrencies from January 2021 through March 2022, according to a new analysis from the Federal Trade Commission. Fraud reports suggest cryptocurrency is quickly becoming the payment of choice for many scammers, with about one out of every four dollars reported lost to fraud paid in cryptocurrency.

People ages 20 to 49 were more than three times as likely as older age groups to have reported losing money to a cryptocurrency scam. Older age groups, however, reported losing more money when they did report a cryptocurrency-related scam.

Some of the red flags consumers should watch out to protect themselves from scammers`:

  • anyone who claims they can guarantee profits or big returns by investing in cryptocurrency;
  • people who require you to buy or pay in cryptocurrency; and
  • a love interest who wants to show you how to invest in cryptocurrency or to send them cryptocurrency.

The FTC’s latest Consumer Protection Data Spotlight finds that most of the cryptocurrency losses consumers reported involved bogus cryptocurrency investment opportunities, which totaled $575 million in reported losses since January 2021. These scams often falsely promise potential investors that they can earn huge returns by investing in their cryptocurrency schemes, but people report losing all the money they “invest.”

After cryptocurrency investment schemes, the next largest losses reported by consumers were on:

  • Romance Scams: These scams often involve a love interest who tries to entice someone into investing in what turns out to be a cryptocurrency scam.
  • Business and Government Impersonation Scams: Reports show these scammers often target consumers by claiming their money is at risk because of fraud or a government investigation and the only way to protect their cash is by converting it to cryptocurrency.

Reports suggest that cryptocurrency-related scams often begin on social media. Nearly half of consumers who reported a cryptocurrency related scam since 2021 said it started with an ad, post or message on a social media platform.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to make a list of the red flags consumers should watch out for to protect themselves from scammers.
  • Ask students if they, their families or friends have become victims of cryptocurrency fraud.  If so, what was the outcome?

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is cryptocurrency quickly becoming payment of choice for many scammers?
  2. Why do most cryptocurrency-related scams often begin on social media?
  3. What might be some reasons that people ages 20 to 49 were more than three times as likely as older age groups to have reported losing money to cryptocurrency scams?

Beware of Credit-Repair Scams

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Financial Education Services (FES) has bilked people out of more than $213 million with a scheme that combines charging people for worthless credit repair services and recruiting them to sell the same bogus services to others.  FES also does business as United Wealth Services.

FES claims it can boost people’s credit scores by hundreds of points quickly by permanently removing negative information from their credit reports and adding positive information. But the FTC says FES’s services accomplish little or nothing. For example, FES sends clients form letters to send to credit bureaus to dispute negative items, but the letters don’t include supporting documents so they rarely result in removal of the items.

The complaint says FES charges people $99 up front for its services, plus up to $89 each month. It’s illegal for a credit repair company to charge people before fully performing the services it promises. Also, the complaint alleges, FES doesn’t give people important information they’re entitled to by law, including written information about the total cost of its services and its refund and cancellation policies.

According to the complaint, FES also pressures people to become FES “agents,” telling them they can make tens of thousands of dollars a month selling FES services to other consumers and recruiting them to become FES agents themselves. But, the FTC says, FES’s purported business opportunity requires its agents to pay hundreds of dollars to join and advance in the business. And, the FTC alleges, in classic pyramid scheme style, FES incentivizes recruiting new agents over selling credit repair services. The complaint charges that few people, if any, make the income promised, and many lose money as FES agents.

If you want to repair your credit, Fixing Your Credit FAQs has information about building your credit and spotting scams. And, if you’re thinking about investing in a business that requires you to recruit other investors, read this information about spotting a pyramid scheme.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to make a list of the legal steps to take to improve their credit scores.
  • What are the legitimate resources for low-cost or no cost help to repair your credit?

Discussion Questions

  1. Is it possible for you to boost your credit score by hundreds of points quickly by permanently removing negative information from your credit reports and adding positive information?  Explain your answer.
  2. Discuss the statement: “Sometimes doing it yourself is the best way to repair your credit.”
  3. What is one of the most important step you can take to improve your credit score?

The Future of Social Security

In June 2022, the Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report on the financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds. The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASI and DI) Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2035, one year later than projected last year, with 80 percent of benefits payable at that time.

The OASI Trust Fund is projected to become depleted in 2034, one year later than last year’s estimate, with 77 percent of benefits payable at that time. The DI Trust Fund asset reserves are not projected to become depleted during the 75-year projection period.

In the 2022 Annual Report to Congress, the Trustees announced:

  • The asset reserves of the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds declined by $56 billion in 2021 to a total of $2.852 trillion.
  • The total annual cost of the program is projected to exceed total annual income in 2022 and remain higher throughout the 75-year projection period.

“It is important to strengthen Social Security for future generations. The Trustees recommend that lawmakers address the projected trust fund shortfalls in a timely way in order to phase in necessary changes gradually,” said Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. “Social Security will continue to be a vital part of the lives of 66 million beneficiaries and 182 million workers and their families during 2022.”

Other highlights of the Trustees Report include:

  • Social Security paid benefits of $1.133 trillion in calendar year 2021. There were about 65 million beneficiaries at the end of the calendar year.
  • During 2021, an estimated 179 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes.
  • The cost of $6.5 billion to administer the Social Security program in 2021 was a very low 0.6 percent of total expenditures.
  • The combined trust fund asset reserves earned interest at an effective annual rate of 2.5 percent in 2021.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students if they or their family and friends are concerned about the future of Social Security?  If so, what are their concerns?
  • Ask students to make a list of documents they will need to establish their social Security account.

Discussion Questions

  1. What might be some reasons for the asset reserves to decline by $56 billion in 2021?
  2. Do you agree that Social Security will continue to be a vital part of the lives of 66 million beneficiaries and 182 million workers and their families during 2022?  Why or why not?
  3. What percent of individuals age 65 and older would live in poverty without Social Security benefits?
  4. Would it be better for you to start getting benefits early with a smaller amount for more years, or wait for a larger monthly payment over a shorter time period?

Preparing for Hurricanes

In 2022, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted that 14 to 21 named storms would develop over the Atlantic Ocean during the hurricane season, which runs from June through November. The agency said there could be six to 10 hurricanes including three to six major hurricanes.  Colorado State University experts forecast 20 named storms this year with 10 becoming hurricanes, including five major hurricanes. The good news is that we have time to prepare.

Here are some tips to protect your home and belongings:

  • Consider buying flood insurance. Flood damage isn’t covered by your home insurance. Don’t wait too long: It typically takes 30 days for flood policies to take effect.
  • Write a family disaster plan. Start on the TexasReady.gov website
  • Decide where and how far you’ll go if you evacuate.
  • Build a “go-kit” with food, medicine, clothes, pet food, and other vital supplies.
  • Make a room-by-room home inventory. This could help later if you file a claim with your insurance company.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to search for flood maps at FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center.  Is their area prone to hurricanes and floods?
  • Ask students to use FEMA’s Historical Flood Risk and Cost data to help evaluate the flood risk in their area.
  • Ask students to talk to their home insurance agent about their need for a flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program.  (If their agent does not sell flood insurance, call 1-800-427-4661.)
  • Ask students if their families are prepared for the hurricane season?  What preparation have they made, if any?

Discussion Questions

  1. Is flood insurance worth its cost?  Who must purchase flood insurance?
  2. Why isn’t flood damage covered by a standard home insurance policy?
  3. Why are flood maps difficult to keep up to date?
  4. What factors determine the cost of a flood insurance policy?

STUDENT MONEY SURVEY

Limited knowledge of personal finance and weak financial literacy skills are some of the concerns expressed by college students in a survey conducted by WalletHub. Findings in this study included:

  • Nearly all (93 percent) of the students surveyed expressed concern about the economy.
  • After graduation, the two major worries of students are not finding a job (36 percent) and educational loan debt (30 percent).
  • One-fifth of students expressed a belief that a college education is less important since the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • About half (52 percent) of the students responding voiced a concern that they were not learning enough about personal finance in school.
  • As a result of the pandemic, the three major financial lessons learned were: (1) having emergency savings (44 percent); (2) not going into debt (23 percent); and (3) having a steady job (22 percent).

Some suggestions to address these concerns include:

  • Financial anxiety can be reduced with simple personal finance actions: track your spending, cut back on unnecessary items, shop wisely, maintain a workable budget, pay off debts, and increase the amount in your emergency fund. Most importantly, emphasize the enjoyment of your connections and relationships with family and friends rather than on material items. 
  • Various career paths may not require a college degree; consider online courses, certification programs, trade schools, and other educational/training options.
  • Be creative in your savings efforts with: (1) saving $5 a day instead of $150 a month; (2) using “no buy” days to save money; (3) paying for your drinks (or snacks) at home by set­ting aside the “price” in savings; (4) visualizing a savings goal and budget categories with a photo or post-It notes as a reminder; (5) create, or locate onlinea poster that displays savings and debt categories to track your progress; (6) placing your credit card in a bag or container of water and place it in the freezer to avoid impulse purchases, then defrost it under warm water when you need to pay for an emergency.
  • When applying and interviewing, clearly communicate the connection between your skills and experiences with the current and future needs of the job position and company. This requires strong research of the company and industry trends but will allow a person to better connect with their prospective employer. Also, be ready to talk about research projects, team experiences, and creative problem-solving.
  • Although an increased number of personal finance classes are becoming available in schools, also seek out financial literacy education through community-based workshops, church outreach programs, and neighborhood organizations.

This research was the result of a nationally representative online survey of over 250 respondents. Responses were normalized so the sample would reflect U.S. demographics.

For additional information on the student money survey, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students talk to others to determine if their opinions are similar to those presented in this article.
  • Have students create a role-playing drama that communicates actions to avoid various personal financial difficulties and career planning mistakes.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Which of the survey results are similar to your current attitudes and experiences?
  2. What additional money and career topics not covered in this survey do you believe are of current concern for students and others?