Hurricane Financial Toolkit

Natural disasters create a need for unique actions.  After physical safety is assured, some of the activities related to finances include:

  • contacting your insurance company – request a copy of your policy, take photos and videos to document your claim.
  • registering for assistance at DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.
  • talking with your mortgage lender and credit card companies since you may not be able to make upcoming payments on time.
  • contacting utility companies to suspend service if you will not be living in your home due to damage.

Beware of various scams that surface after natural disasters.  These frauds can include phony repairs, deceptive contractors, requiring up-front fees, fake charities, and misrepresenting oneself as an insurance company agent or government representative to obtain personal information.

Assistance for the personal and financial chaos created by a hurricane or other natural disaster may be obtained from these organizations:

For additional information on financial actions for disasters, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students role play situations that might require actions such as those described in this article.
  • Have students create a video with suggestions to take when encountering a natural disaster.

Discussion Questions 

  1. How might the advice offered in this article be communicated to people who are victims of a natural disaster?
  2. Describe common mistakes people might make when encountering a natural disaster.

Innovation for Improved Financial Health

Mobile start-up companies and other organizations are working with financial institutions to assist consumers with apps and websites that address various financial tasks and concerns.  These include:

  • Albert (www.meetalbert.com) is a mobile app to guide your financial decisions with the assistance of various financial institutions.
  • EARN (www.earn.org) is a national nonprofit to help low-income families create a habit of saving and break the cycle of financial instability.
  • eCreditHero (www.getcredithero.com) is designed to fix errors that appear on an estimated 80 percent of the credit reports of Americans.
  • Scratch (www.scratch.fi) helps borrowers to better understand, manage, and repay loans.
  • WiseBanyan (www.wisebanyan.com) is a free financial advisor that suggests and manages investment plans for various financial goals, such as savings for retirement, creating an emergency fund, and buying a home.

For additional information on innovative financial planning apps, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students search for a website or app that would be of value of improved personal financial planning.
  • Have students talk to others about the financial concerns they face. Ask students to propose an app or website that would address a personal finance concern.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What personal financial planning areas provide people with the most difficulty?
  2. Describe potential apps or websites that might be created to assist people with their personal financial planning activities?

Want to Work from Home?

“Letting Employees Work from Home Can Be a Win-Win for Employers and Staff Alike.”

For employees, the option to telecommute appeals to a vast majority of full-time workers.  Research by Global Workplace Analytics found that there are benefits for employees and employers when employees telecommute and work at home.  For employees, the chief advantages are

  • Reduced time commuting to work
  • Lower costs of commuting to the office
  • Less stress of juggling the demands of work and family

There are also benefits for employers including

  • Less office space is needed because not every employee works in the office every day
  • Lower expenses for rent or costs associated with ownership of office space
  • A new way to attract talent because employees like the option of working at home
  • Increased employee motivation and engagement because telecommuting is considered a benefit

The top five companies and organizations that encourage telecommuting are:

  1. United-Health Group
  2. Dell
  3. S. Department of Agriculture
  4. Xerox
  5. Humana

For more information about this article and a complete list of the top 20 companies for telecommuting,  click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to point out the benefits of telecommuting.

Discussion Questions

  1. Not everyone is a candidate to work at home. What traits and time management skills are needed if you obtain a job where you can work at home?
  2. Are there disadvantages to telecommuting and working at home?

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?

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?

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?

A Summary Instead of a Career Objective

Since the career objective presented on most resumes is too general and unfocused, hiring managers recommend a career summary. When developing a resume summary, consider the following actions:

  1. Plan a clear direction that emphasizes the skills and experience directly related to your career area. Communicate results and accomplishments that highlight your strengths.
  2. Research the industry to obtain an understanding of the trends and career competencies you will encounter.
  3. Develop phrasing that communicates the value you can add to an organization.

A resume summary can be appropriate for highlighting your work history and when transitioning careers. This resume feature also allows you to clearly communicate your personal brand.

For additional information on career summaries, click here.

 

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students search online for sample career summaries for industries of interest to them.
  • Have students create a career summary that reflects their current competencies and experiences.

Discussion Questions 

  1. Why are career objectives discouraged on resumes?
  2. What actions might be taken to develop an effective career summary?

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?

Career Questions to Ask Yourself

Studies reveal that most people do not enjoy their work.  In an effort to enhance your career satisfaction, career coaches recommend answering these questions on a regular basis:

  • Am I doing something that is aligned with my core values?
  • Am I doing something that leaves a lasting impact?
  • Am I doing something that is related to my natural talents, aptitude, and disposition?
  • Am I stretching myself a little every day?
  • Can I see myself doing this same work five or ten years from now?

Responses to these questions will allow you to make a better connection between your passion and meaningful work activities.  To assess your strengths and interests, use tools such as the Myers-Briggs personality test, Pathway Planner, StrengthsFinder 2.0, and the Enneagram personality assessment.  While aligning your work with your talents, aptitude, and dispositions, also continue to challenge yourself.

For additional information on career assessment questions, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students ask others for their answers to these career questions.
  • Have students research various careers that who allow them to make a better connection between their passion and meaningful work activities.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What are actions a person might take to plan for a satisfying career?
  2. How might a person research careers that provide meaningful work?

The Gig Economy

Online selling, personal taxi services such as Uber, and renting a spare room to tourists, are examples of an increasing number of people generating or supplementing their incomes by trading goods and services online.  This trend is often replacing traditional employment.

Measurement of the “gig economy” (working outside a formal work environment with temporary, short-term employment by independent workers) is difficult.  Many situations are not reported in current labor statistics. In recent years, the fastest growth for self-employed workers has been in hairdressing, cleaning, and management consulting. While these services may be in the gig economy, this trend may also indicate growing formal self-employment in these fields.

Gig economy activities may start as temporary work due to a lay-off or a need to supplement household income. However, as time goes by, these self-employment positions can become a person’s ongoing employment status.

For additional information on the gig economy, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Have students describe examples of the “gig economy.”
  • Have students explain the “gig economy” to others (including different generations) and get their reactions.

Discussion Questions

  1. What factors influenced the development of the gig economy?
  2. How might the gig economy affect a person’s financial planning activities?