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.

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.

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?

OVERCOMING INFLATION

With inflation, you will not be able to avoid higher prices. However, there is one action you can take that will not be affected by inflation. As advocated by legendary investor Warren Buffet, one of the strongest protections against inflation is investing in yourself. Obtaining additional career skills and improving existing ones will keep you in demand.

These added skills, unlike a lower value of the dollar, are inflation-proof. Various career abilities will be in demand no matter what the dollar is worth. These competencies can’t be taken away from you, and this investment in yourself is not taxed.

As a business owner or investor, the advice is similar. Offer a top-level product or service that will be in demand even in times of inflation. As noted by Buffet: when inflation is high the best thing you can do is be exceptionally good at something.

For additional information on an inflation strategy, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students talk to others to learn about the actions they have taken in their lives to enhance and expand their career skills.
  • Have students research online sources available for free and low-cost classes and certification programs to enhance a person’s career skills.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What actions are you taking to enhance or expand your career skills?
  2. What are examples of exceptional products or services that might be in demand even in times of inflation?

Coping With the Corona Virus-Related Financial Stressors

KEY POINTS

  • Nearly half of U.S. adults have reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the virus, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
  • A new NFCC survey finds situations that immensely exacerbate financial worries include not having enough savings, losing a job and the inability to pay debts.
  • Many large health insurance companies as well as Medicare have increased their capacity and coverage for telehealth visits with mental health providers.

Here are some tips from the mental health and financial experts on how best to cope with these common money stressors.

1. Not enough savings

If you find yourself struggling financially and have a limited emergency fund — or none at all — focus instead on what you can control. “First, carefully examine your expenses and reprioritize your spending. Cut out everything but the essentials , such as,  mortgage or rent, food, utilities and insurance,” said author and certified financial planner Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, who is also president of the Charles Schwab Foundation. “If you’re unable to pay a bill, contact your creditors right away. They may be willing to negotiate a payment schedule or waive late fees.

2. Job loss

If you haven’t already, file for unemployment benefits immediately through your state’s programThere will likely be a lag time until you receive your first check.

  • Make sure you still have health insurance. You could switch to COBRA to receive the same coverage you had under your employer for the next 18 months, but you have to pay for it yourself at a considerably higher cost than you were paying as an employee. “Do some comparison-shopping.”
  • Consider other jobs that you may be able to pursue. Use your down time to learn a new skill or start that side-hustle. Education, health care, and technology companies are among some of the industries hiring remote workers right now.

3. Inability to pay your debts

Nearly half of U.S. adults currently have credit card debt and 13% of them are not paying anything at all or don’t have a plan on how to pay, according to a report by CreditCards.com. 

Consider temporarily paying only the minimum on mortgage/rent, car loans and student loans as well, said Schwab-Pomerantz, whose Schwab MoneyWise website has a list of resources to help during the Covid-19 crisis. More help could be available. You may be able to lower or suspend your mortgage payments for up to one year in some cases. Contact your lender.  If you’re having trouble paying your rent, talk to your landlord about your situation and your options. Some states and municipalities are providing eviction restrictions for impacted individuals. Many utilities and phone companies have stopped cutting off services for nonpayment. Call them.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students how the corona virus has affected them, their relatives, or friends. What steps have they taken to minimize the effects of the corona virus?
  • List the steps to take if you don’t have enough emergency funds to get through this financial difficult period.

Discussion Questions

  1. How are millions of Americans coping with stress and anxiety as they deal with the fear and reality of death and disease due to the corona virus pandemic?
  2. Discuss the economic and emotional worries that are keeping American awake at night.

Virtual Interviews

Lock-downs, sheltering in, and remote working have increased online and virtual interviews.  To prepare for this activity, consider these suggestions from career planning experts.

  • Some things haven’t changed. Maintain a professional appearance. Wear solid colors; stripes and patterns can be distracting.
  • Plan a quiet environment. Keep the door and windows closed; silence your cell phone. Close other sites on your computer to avoid pop-ups and maintain focus. Remove pets and children from the area to prevent distractions.
  • Select an appropriate background. Clutter and other home items should be out of sight. Set up a blank background that doesn’t clash with your clothing color.
  • Use a small chair. Check your lighting to avoid shadows and glares. Natural light is usually best, but beware of direct backlighting, like a window behind you.
  • Choose an appropriate camera angle so the interviewer can clearly see you. Avoid using a phone for a video interview.
  • Test in advance and practice. Try out the software, and install a backup copy on a second device. Do a test run before the interview day to verify that audio, video, and lighting are appropriate. Record your practice session to view how you might improve.
  • Check your time, especially if in a different time zone.
  • Maintain eye contact with the camera. Set notes on the wall behind the screen with reminders of key points and questions to ask.
  • Show energy and enthusiasm. Move around and do light exercises before you start.

LinkedIn has introduced software when preparing for a virtual interview. Artificial intelligence programs give feedback on practice answers for common questions. The critique includes an assessment on pacing, use of filler words, and phrases to avoid.

For additional information on virtual interviews, go to:

Article #1

Article #2

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students practice their interview skills for a virtual interview.
  • Have students talk to others about methods used to prepare for an interview.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What are the main differences between an in-person and virtual interview?
  2. Describe benefits and drawback that might be present when using artificial intelligence to prepare for a virtual interview.

Financial Planning for a Career Change

When considering a career change, the following financial suggestions are offered:

  • have an appropriate amount of savings for unexpected expenses during the transition.
  • create a budget to live frugally; cut living costs to be prepared for sudden expenses.
  • reassess your investment portfolio to reduce risk exposure and possibly eliminate fees.
  • seek advice from a financial advisor.
  • determine how a career switch might impact your ability to save.

For additional information on financial advice when changing careers, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students talk to a person who recently changed jobs to obtain information about their experiences.
  • Have students create a video presentation with suggested actions when planning to change careers.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What relationship exists between a person’s career choice and money management activities?
  2. Describe additional financial planning actions that might be appropriate when considering a career change.

When A Robot Reads Your Resume

Before a person views your resume, it might be scanned by a computer to screen your qualifications.

Career experts suggest preparing your resume for three audiences: a computer screening program, a human resources specialist, and the hiring manager.

To pass the test of automatic resume scanners, consider these suggestions:

  • Be sure to include your contact information, and avoid putting required information in the heading where it might be missed by the scanner.
  • Avoid fancy formats and fonts. Use a professional presentation.  Bullets are suggested for an organized, easy-to-read appearance.
  • Emphasize keywords that reflect your competencies and experiences.
  • Connect to the job description. Use the requirements and responsibilities of an employment position as a guide for presenting your background, skills, and accomplishments. Avoid a generic resume; tailor your resume to the specific position. Especially look for keywords that are repeated in the job description.
  • Use clear job titles. Adapt and simplify previous job titles to fit generally-accepted labels in an industry.
  • Seek guidance. Ask for assistance from career development centers, professional colleagues, friends, and others who can help you prepare a resume appropriate for scanning software.

Of special note, job applicants with military experience should match job description keywords to their military service. They should also emphasize and communicate their background so the resume scanning software will easily recognize their employment competencies.

For additional information on automatic resume scanners, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students create a resume for a specific job description to connect their background to the available position.
  • Have students talk to a few people to obtain suggestions for improving their resumes.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Based on selected job descriptions, name keywords that might be appropriate to use in a resume for those positions.
  2. List various sources that might be used to obtain resume preparation assistance.