Most people would like to be able to go back and do some things differently related to their personal finances. A study by bankrate.com revealed that 76 percent of those surveyed have at least one financial regret. The largest concern, over half (56 percent), involved not starting to save sooner for retirement, an emergency fund, or their children’s education. Other financial regrets reported in the study include: living above one’s means; taking on too much credit card debt; and the burden of student loans.
A recommended action to address these financial regrets include breaking down large goals into smaller, easier ones can help put individuals on a path to success. A “save-first” mindset instead of “spend-first” is also suggested. In addition, consider opening an online savings account with higher returns, and set up direct deposits for regular saving.
For additional information on financial regrets, click here.
- Have students conduct online research to determine various financial regrets of people in different age categories and life situations.
- Have students conduct an interview with a person about actions that might be taken to avoid financial regrets.
- What factors might create situations that result in a financial regret?
- Describe possible financial regrets and corrective actions a person might take.
While a savings account and a checking account provide the foundation for managing finances, several other accounts should be considered. Since all most people don’t put all their financial documents in one drawer, all your money shouldn’t be in one account. The various recommended accounts include:
- Emergency savings for funds when you face financial difficulties that cannot be resolved in others ways. An amount equal to 6 to 12 months of living expenses is often recommended. Consider storing these funds in an “out of sight, out of mind” location, such as with an online bank account.
- Regular savings for short-term needs, such as home repairs, vacation, auto maintenance, or new furniture. Be sure to have a goal and plan for these funds.
- Household checking account for paying current bills. All income is deposited in this account with automatic transfers for regular bills and amounts to various savings accounts. Extra funds in this account can go to the regular savings fund.
- Spouse checking accounts to pay expenses for which each person has responsibility as well as work-related costs.
- Health savings account (HSA) for tax-free payments of medical-related expenses. HSAs are especially of value with high-deductible insurance plans.
- The extra fund involves the “fun money” leftover after all bills are paid, savings is under control, and all accounts have a balance at an appropriate level. This money is the reward for spending wisely.
If all your accounts are at the same financial institution, using the online dashboard will allow you monitor your balances. Or, if you use different banks, websites or apps such as Mint.com can be used to view your overall financial situation.
For additional information on needed bank accounts, click here.
- Have students design a personal plan for the various bank accounts they will use to to monitor their spending and saving.
- Have students talk to others about methods used to monitor spending and to maintain an appropriate level of saving.
- What are the benefits and drawbacks of the system discussed in this article?
- Describe actions to monitor spending and saving using online banking and apps.
While you might think that saving for college, retirement, or buying home are the reasons Americans save, according to a recent survey, travel was reported as the top priority. In a study of 2,500 adult Americans representing varied demographic, geographic, economic, and social groups, 45 percent of respondents set aside money for traveling. This was especially true among younger respondents, who prefer travel experiences over savings to buy a home.
After travel, the main priorities for saving by Americans are:
- for an emergency fund (37 percent)
- for retirement (30 percent)
- to buy a house (21 percent)
- to buy a car, truck or motorcycle (20 percent)
For additional information on saving priorities, check out these two resources:
- Have students conduct a survey among people they know to determine the main reasons for saving.
- Have students talk to others to obtain ideas for building a person’s savings account.
- What do you believe are reasons people prefer saving for travel over other financial goals?
- Describe other actions that might be taken to motivate people to build their savings?
It’s possible to add $500 or $1,000 to your savings with a simple action. Clark.com suggests using store receipts to save for the future. Many retailers display a “You Saved” amount on a receipt for items on sale and store discounts. By putting this amount in a savings account you can avoid spending the “saved” money on other items.
Collecting receipts in an envelope or box, or scanning them to an app, can also help analyze buying habits to make wiser purchases in the future and not make as many trips to the store. This action can result in an extra amount each month added to your savings. This money can be added to your emergency fund or retirement account.
For additional information on the receipt savings trick, click here.
- Have students locate examples of receipts that show “amount saved.”
- Have students talk to others to obtain ideas for methods for building a person’s savings account.
- What do you believe are the benefits and drawbacks of using this system?
- Describe other actions that might be taken to motivate you and others to build your savings?
While every person and every generation has something to learn, we all also have ideas and information that can benefit others. Those skillful in asking questions have an advantage for planning and implementing financial activities. Asking questions usually results in useful knowledge before taking action and being less intimidated about unknown topics.
Other actions with strong benefits for better money decisions include:
- Joining groups through social media and online communities resulting in connections and information to support financial concerns and decisions.
- Not being overly confident, but researching a topic carefully before making a financial decision to take action.
- Maintaining a minimal competitive nature; instead identify actions and investments that best meet your financial goals.
- Manage spending and saving with the use of debit cards, instead of credit cards, and automating your savings with online deposits or an app.
For additional information on successful financial planning actions, click here.
- Have students survey friends to determine which of the actions in this article are commonly used.
- Have students create role playing situations or a video to communicate the benefits of the actions discussed in this article.
- What do you believe are the benefits and drawbacks of these suggested actions?
- Describe other actions that might be taken for successful financial planning.
“Sometimes the hardest thing about saving money is just getting started.”
This Bank of America article provides a step-by-step guide for simple ways to save money–money that can then be used to pursue your financial goals. To learn more, check out the 8 steps below.
- Record your expenses. Ideally, you can account for every penny you spend for the big items like mortgages, credit cards, and even small items like a coffee and snacks.
- Make a budget. Once you know how you spend, you can compare your income to your expenses and make changes, if necessary.
- Plan on saving money. Your budget should contain a savings category. Ideally, savings should account for 10 to 15 percent of your income.
- Choose something to save for. One of the best ways to save money is to set a goal. Possible goals include saving for a vacation, the down payment for a house, retirement, or anything important to you.
- Decide on your priorities. Prioritizing goals can give you a clear idea of what is most important and helps to remind you why you are saving money.
- Pick the right tools. There are many saving options and the choice often depends on the amount of time before you need the money. Often, money for short-term goals is placed in savings accounts. Money for long-term goals may involve stocks, bonds, or mutual funds.
- Make saving automatic. Banks offer automated transfers between checking and savings accounts. Automated transfers are great because you don’t have to make a decision to save or invest; it just happens.
- Watch your savings grow. Checking your progress every month helps you stick to your personal savings plan.
For more information, click here.
You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to
- Discuss the relationship between income, expenses, and establishing a systematic savings program.
- Help students understand how saving small amounts over time can help obtain goals that can change their lives.
- At the end of the month, many people wonder where their money went! Why is it important to determine how you spend your money?
- How can a budget help you find the money needed to establish a savings program built on the goals you want to achieve?
SBLOCs are loans that are often marketed to investors as an easy and inexpensive way to access extra cash by borrowing against the assets in your investment portfolio without having to liquidate these securities. They do, however, carry a number of risks, among them potential unintended tax consequences and the possibility that you may, in fact have to sell your holdings, which could have a significant impact on your long-term investment goals.
Set up as a revolving line of credit, an SBLOC allows you to borrow money using securities held in your investment accounts as collateral. You can continue to trade and buy and sell securities in your pledged accounts. An SBLOC requires you to make monthly interest-only payments, and the loan remains outstanding until you repay it. You can repay some (or all) of the outstanding principal at any time, then borrow again later. Some investors like the flexibility of an SBLOC as compared to a term loan, which has a stated maturity date and a fixed repayment schedule. In some ways, SBLOC are reminiscent of home equity lines of credit, except of course that, among other things, they involve the use of your securities rather than your home as collateral.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) have issued an investor alert to provide information about the basics of SBLOC, how they may be marketed to you, and what risks you should consider before posting your investment portfolio as collateral. SBLOCs may seem like an attractive way to access extra capital when markets are producing positive returns, but market volatility can magnify you potential losses, placing your financial future at greater risks.
For more information, click here.
- Ask students to prepare a list of possible advantages and disadvantages of securities-based loans.
- How might market volatility magnify potential losses placing your financial future at a greater risk?
- How are securities-backed lines of credit different from home-equity lines of credit?
- Why some investors prefer SBLOC to a traditional short term loan?
“I’ve been told a high deductible health plan (HDHP) is a good choice for my situation and that it might save me some money. Can you explain this to me.”
This Forbes article provides answers to the questions that many people–especially younger people–have about high deductible health insurance policies. At the beginning, the author, Christina LeMontagne, points out that high deductible policies are a great option for healthy people, but may not be right for everyone. She also describes what a high deductible health plan is, who can benefit from HDHPs, and how they can save you money.
For more information, click here.
You may want to use the information in this blog post and the original article to
- Reinforce what a high deductible health plan (HDHP) is.
- Stress the fact that while an HDHP may save you money, there are risk involved if you choose this type of policy.
- What are the advantages of an HDHP plan?
- What are the disadvantages of an HDHP plan?
- Under what circumstances would you choose an HDHP plan?
To avoid financial disaster, several measurements are available for assessing a person’s personal financial stress:
- The Debt-to-Income Ratio is obtained by dividing your debts by pretax earnings. Generally this number should be less than 28 percent, without your mortgage, or 36 percent, including your mortgage payment.
- Discretionary Expenses involve spending for items other than fixed obligations and variable nondiscretionary items, such as food and utilities. Purely discretionary expenses may involve recreation and vacations. An analysis of these categories will allow you to delay, reduce, or eliminate various expenses to avoid financial difficulties.
- Emergency Savings should be able to cover three to nine months of living expenses. These funds should be readily available in savings or other easily liquidated accounts. Greater financial greater obligations will require a larger emergency fund.
- Additional Income involving wages or tips from a part-time job or selling personal possessions can provide a cushion in times of financial difficulty.
- Total Assets, both liquid and non-liquid, will reduce your vulnerability to financial turmoil.
For additional information on the personal finance stress test, click here.
- Have students calculate one or more of these measurements for their life situation.
- Have students prepare a short creative video with a summary of these measurements.
- Why is liquidity important for reduced financial stress?
- What actions would you recommend to for a person to reduce their personal financial stress?
Each year, America Saves (www.americasaves.org) conducts a survey or its program participants to determine the attitudes and behaviors of savers. The most recent study reports that:
- People save mainly for their emergency fund, retirement, or repaying debt.
- People in formal savings programs, such as America Saves, report saving larger amounts.
- Married respondents saved much more than single respondents.
- Females and males have different saving purposes; females favored saving for an emergency fund, males favored retirement saving.
- Savers involved in America Saves are saving more, are more confident in their ability to manage their money, and are managing their debt better while feeling more optimistic about their financial situation.
The complete Savers Survey report is available here.
- Have students talk to others about their savings habits and goals.
- Have students prepare a graph to monitor their savings activities.
- What actions can help encourage a person to have more effective savings habits?
- Why does being involved in an organized savings program result in more savings and better money management activities?