LACK OF FINANCIAL LITERACY IN AMERICA’S SCHOOLS

IMG_3811

“According to Money, the average millennial household “owes $14,800 in student loans.” Writer Kerri Anne Renzulli explains that while debt averages vary across each generation, people of all ages are demonstrating a greater comfort with debt. As everyone becomes more comfortable with financing and credit, there is a greater risk that accumulated debt will never be paid off in full.

‘Younger people are taking on debt at a higher rate and paying it off at a lower rate,’ says Lucia Dunn, an economics professor at Ohio State University who has studied consumer debt. ‘When they reach age 75, the debt picture for them will look a lot different than what we currently see. When you project out these trends, it is not so optimistic.’

The country should take a proactive approach in preventing debt from spiraling further. Requiring personal finance in high schools with the goal of establishing financial literacy in young people before they become independent is a logical first step.” (Read entire article here https://www.nola.com/interact/2018/11/should_high_schools_be_require.html)

Last week, I had the privilege of volunteering as part of Leadership Montgomery at Finance Park at Thomas Edison High School in Montgomery County. Growing up, I was involved with Junior Achievement in high school and jumped at the opportunity to be included in this experience with some 7th graders from Briggs Chaney Middle School. As part of this program, I spoke to the students about managing debt, establishing credit, the benefit of low interest rates on your monthly payments, and the idea of “wants vs. needs.”   In today’s world, many adults still struggle with these concepts and even many Wharton students lack a basic financial education.(https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/26/even-mba-students-could-use-some-basic-money-lessons.html). It is extremely important that we start basic financial education at an early age so that our children have the financial wisdom necessary to become successful adults.

 

https://youtu.be/Pmb7oyq-OTc

Introducing Beers with Brad

bwb-web-1024×576

We have hosted two very successful Beers with Brad financial literacy seminars in Gaithersburg, Maryland at Launch Workplaces.  We’ve had terrific beer from great local breweries around Maryland. I think when you’re able to relax and have a beer, hear what everyone else is thinking about financially and truly see that you are not alone and other people have the same fears around money it enables the conversation to expand and for questions to surface that you may not have asked before.

I created the idea of Beers with Brad because people are so hesitant to speak up about their financial anxieties and worries about how to save for retirement.  Many questions surround saving for kids college education and how to valuate the interest rate on your student loan debt versus what you could be potentially making in the diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, cash, real estate, and other asset classes.  There is so much information available that it can be overwhelming and many people I’ve talked to are searching for clear answers.

As Morgan explains:

That’s because investing is not the study of finance. It’s the study of how people behave with money. And behavior is hard to teach, even to really smart people. You can’t sum up behavior with formulas to memorize or spreadsheet models to follow. Behavior is inborn, varies by person, is hard to measure, changes over time, and people are prone to deny its existence, especially when describing themselves. –Morgan Housel

Young families have so much going on in their lives that they don’t have the time to discuss personal finances and one of the greatest stresses in a marriage is finance.  We created this video to show exactly what Beers with Brad is, how relaxed it is and how engaging the conversations are.

Plus, who doesn’t like a good local craft beer?

https://youtu.be/msM_rkQYkpc

 

If you have any questions about the event contact us at info@shermanwealth.com we hope to see you there!

If you are unable to join this month, please let us know if you want to be added to the email list for the future events below:

[contact-form-7 id=”4411″ title=”Beers With Brad Updates”]

 

Teaching Children Financial Responsibility: Start Early

close up of family hands with piggy bank

Would it surprise you to know that students graduating from high school enter college with little to no knowledge about their finances, how to budget, or save for their futures? The problem has become so severe that 40% of these students wind up going into debt in order to fund their social lives and 70% of these students wind up damaging their credit ratings shortly after college graduation.

Unfortunately, it seems as though this debt will not be going away anytime soon.  The average student loan debt for the class of 2016 increased by 6% from the previous year and the financial literacy rate in the U.S. has not improved over the past three years. While college enrollment and the number of college graduates has continued to increase, financial literacy lags among these young people at record lows. Where does this disconnect come from?

Few states offer personal finance or economics courses and even fewer states test students on the financial knowledge they have acquired. It therefore comes as no surprise that American students (and we can infer American adults) have one of the lowest levels of financial literacy when compared to other countries.  While the number of student loans has increased,

  • 44% of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $400 emergency
  • 43% of student loan borrowers are not making payments
  • 38% of U.S. households have credit card debt
  • 33% of American adults have $0 saved for retirement

Why does it matter? How is it affecting the economy?

Students are graduating with loans they can’t afford to pay back and with minimal financial knowledge in planning for their futures. According to Student Loan Hero, Americans have over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt, which is more than double the total U.S. credit card debt of $620 billion. This debt is becoming a major barrier to home ownership. 43% of student loan borrowers are not making payments and most of these individuals do not have any savings. A lack of sound financial knowledge will affect the economy as these millennials enter the labor force burdened with student loans.

As parents, we play a vital role in educating our children about the importance of personal finances.  In the Sherman household, we are teaching our children the importance of finances on a daily basis. Our 4 year old son is learning about savings by doing chores in return for an allowance, which he saves in his piggy bank. He is learning to save and spend his money wisely.

Parents can begin educating their children at home in order to increase the financial literacy of their kids. By demonstrating wise financial habits, parents can serve as role models for their kids. Talking in an age appropriate way to your children about the dangers of debt and the importance of saving a portion of any money they earn instills financial values and lessons your child can use throughout life.  You may find that using an allowance is a way that you can teach your kids about saving and spending appropriately. Since it has been shown that kids who manage their own money have been found to demonstrate better financial habits in the future, giving your kids the opportunity to spend and save their own allowance or money earned is a good way to prepare them for later on. Even a simple trip to the store can be used as an opportunity to start the conversation about the danger of credit cards and how they should only be used in an emergency.  Educating your kids at an early age will enable them to better learn and practice sound financial habits while under your watchful eye and cause them to be less likely to make irrational decisions once they are out on their own.

This issue is not only affecting students and young adults.  Many professionals with advanced degrees have spent countless hours studying and researching information in their particular field.  Despite all of the hours spent earning their degrees, many of these people have never taken a single course in financial education and are surprisingly not prepared to deal with the important financial decisions affecting their futures.  As a result, many extremely smart and successful people are making critical financial errors which can negatively impact the amount of money they have saved upon retirement.

Beginning in 2011, studies were conducted where participants were shown a computer generated rendering of what they might look like at their age of retirement.  They were then asked to make financial decisions about whether to spend their money today or save that money for the future. In each study, those individuals who were shown pictures of their future selves allocated more than twice as much money towards their retirement accounts than those who did not see the age-progressed images.  Seeing the images gave the participants a connection with their future selves that they did not possess before. As a result, their spending/saving behavior changed dramatically because “saving is like a choice between spending money today or giving it to a stranger years from now.”

The benefits of educating your children about the importance of personal finances are undeniable, and you’ll be able to set them up for a promising future and help them prepare for retirement. Visit us online for more information about how we can help improve your financial life.

Paying Hidden Costs Because your Broker’s not a Fiduciary?

Age based(1)

Investors often choose big banks and investment firms over smaller financial advisors because they think the brand name and size makes the service and product offerings better. In actuality, it’s often the reverse.

Unless your firm is a Fiduciary, chances are there are sales quotas and contests for the non fiduciary, “suitability” reps, who are often paid extra to put clients in proprietary funds that are not in the clients’ best interests, but that reap commissions for the brokerage house.

Last Friday the SEC issued a statement announcing that three investment advisers “have settled charges for breaching fiduciary duties to clients and generating millions of dollars of improper fees in the process.” The release goes on to say that “PNC Investments LLC, Securities America Advisors Inc., and Geneos Wealth Management Inc. failed to disclose conflicts of interest and violated their duty to seek best execution by investing advisory clients in higher-cost mutual fund shares when lower-cost shares of the same funds were available.”

And according to an article in Investment News last week, it turns out smaller credit card and savings customers may not have been the only ones who were misled in the Wells Fargo “fake account” scandal. The article states that “according to inside sources, some clients of the bank’s wealth-management division were steered into investments that maximized revenue for the bank and compensation for its employees.”

When will this stop and why would any one continue to do business with one of these non Fiduciary firms?

The big problem is lack of transparency. Most investors don’t understand how the business works and how broker-dealers make their money. That means the investors are, in effect, investing blindfolded. And while there are many good, principled people at the larger firms, because they are not bound by the Fiduciary Standard, there is lots of potential for recommending something that is “almost as good” as the best product for you.

The result is that, according to a survey just released by the CFA Institute, a majority of investors believe that their advisors fail to fully disclose conflicts of interest and the fees they charge. Only 35% of individual investors polled believe that their advisor always puts their clients’ interests ahead of their own and only 25% of the institutional investors who participated in the survey.

April is National Financial Literacy month and one of the most important Financial Lessons investors – and potential investors – can learn this month is what “Fiduciary” means and why it’s so critical to your financial health.

When you’re working with a fee-only Fiduciary, they have sworn to only recommend financial products that are the best for their clients. Most broker-dealers in large wire houses have only agreed to uphold the “suitability” standard, which means they are allowed to recommend investments that are “suitable” – not best – for you but potentially yield a markup for their company or bonus or commission for them.

If you’re unclear about what fees you are paying, share classes you own, or how much your funds are costing you in annual expenses, contact us for a free analysis of your currents investments and the costs associated with them.

Particularly during Financial Literacy Month, make sure your Financial Advisor is working for you.

 

Your Next-to-the-Last Will and Testament: Estate Planning When You’re Young

Age based

There was an excellent article in the WSJ last week about a topic most of us don’t really want to think about (but really need to:) how to prepare in case you die young.

No one likes to think about dying and absolutely no one likes to think about the possibility of dying young. Lately it’s hit home for me, though, because two of my high school friends were diagnosed with cancer over the last year. Both are in remission now, thankfully, but it brings home the fact that it never hurts to be prepared.

The bottom line is: if you’re old enough to be filing your taxes this month, you’re old enough to take basic steps to create basic estate documents. And yes, things will evolve and there will be adjustments to make over your – hopefully – long and prosperous life. But it’s never too early to get started.

  • The single most important thing we all need is a will and/or account beneficiaries, so that it’s clear where you want your assets to go. Statistics show that not only do most young people not have a will, but that most young parents who do have wills haven’t updated them when they had a second or third child. At the very least make sure you’ve named beneficiaries for all your bank and investment accounts (also known as TOD or  “transfer on death” provisions), to prevent having the courts probate and decide how to transfer your assets. If you need help we can connect you with our excellent network of Washington area professionals who can advise you about making the best choices for you and your loved ones.
  • If you have kids, naming guardians for them is critical, to protect them should the unthinkable happen.
  • And don’t forget yourself! My mother just had knee replacement surgery about two weeks ago and, just before she did, she handed me her advanced medical directive. I was grateful she did (she’s fine!) and your loved ones will be grateful to know what your preferences are if they ever need to make decisions for you. In addition to a life insurance policy, don’t forget disability insurance in case for some reason you can’t work. I’ve never had to use the policy I took out in my 20s but I’m glad it’s there.
  • And finally, why not create a notebook or file where all your important documents are handy? It’s a great habit to get into when you’re young. Or you could gather your documents in a tool like the online document vault our clients have access to. So take a moment and get organized – most likely you wont need it for a long time but you’ll have created a great habit for yourself.

April is a great time for an overall financial check-up: you have all your tax documents organized, which means it will be that much easier to get these important personal documents organized as well. April is also Financial Literacy Month so, as always, call us if you have questions or for a free consultation and financial check-up.

Why Utilize a Financial Advisor?

Sherman Wealth Management | Fee Only Fiduciary

Personal finance.  Don’t underestimate the adjective.

In today’s world, the rise of “robo advisors” have led some to (incorrectly) conclude that managing investment portfolios is simple.  As far as they are concerned, as long as you have a software program, you’re set.  Within minutes, a computer system can analyze your risk tolerance, determine the best investments for your unique situation and be setup to adjust it every three months if it falls out of line.  These programs provide low cost access to data-driven algorithms for trading.  We’ve discussed some of the pros and cons in our recent blog post.

But there is something missing if that is where the finance conversation stopped.

A glance at the Behavior Gap chart below points out the simple but incredibly valuable missing link: your lifetime returns are driven much more substantially by your own behavior than by the portfolio you have set up.  This is where the financial advisor steps in, because managing you and crafting plans around your individual needs, behaviors, and ideas is something a computer program cannot do.

There are entire books written about the human psychology of investing and how, if left unchecked, it can negatively impact returns.  In fact, the field of behavioral finance seeks to identify common biases that humans make when investing, including but not limited to: herd mentality, loss aversion, confirmation bias, availability bias, the disposition effect, familiarity bias and self attribution bias.  These are just some of the many important behavioral issues that the human connection you have with an advisor can help you avoid.

A computer program cannot tell you that you are overreacting to a report you read on the news, or explain that chasing returns is likely not going to provide a benefit.  A computer program can’t coach you through identifying personal goals or customize budgets that will grow and change as unexpected life events pop-up.  A computer program isn’t going to give you a call when they see a red-flag in your budget or spending habits.  A computer program can’t push you to think beyond a limited scope to identify all of your goals and priorities or be there to answer the phone when you have a question.  For example: Do you want to send your kids to private school?  Do you want to be there to support your parents as they age?

Don’t get us wrong: that hardly means you should shun technology.  At Sherman Wealth Management, we believe that a good financial advisor knows how to take the power that technology has to offer and add in all of the benefits that only a personal human connection can provide.  We believe that a good financial advisor is someone that you know and trust, who takes your financial plan as seriously as they would their own.  Here, we utilize a user-tech interface that allows our clients to manage all of the pieces of their financial plan, from cash flow to 401Ks, while allowing an experienced advisor to monitor it for new opportunities and to ensure clients are on the path to meet their goals.  That means you get access to all of their knowledge and expertise in combination with the power of technology to enhance returns, increase efficiency and provide you with flexibility and control.   As a fee-only fiduciary, we take that responsibility very seriously, and that includes taking advantage of all of the tools at our disposal.

Do you feel that you are getting what you need out of your advisory relationship?  If not, we encourage you to reach out to us at anytime here. Sherman Wealth Management’s approach is based on the understanding that personal finance should be just that… personal.

 

***

The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.

7 Fun Money Lessons to Teach Your Kids this Summer

Money Lessons for Kids

Summer is a great time for kids to catch fireflies, perfect their backstrokes, daydream, and learn some great lessons about money and financial literacy. Sound like a hard idea to sell to kids in vacation mode? Not if you make it a rewarding part of summer fun. Here are some tips to incorporate smart money lessons for kids from K-12 that will add to their summer fun and set a great foundation for making smart money choices later on.

SAVING

Ask your kids to set aside part their allowance for a special summer savings goal then sweeten the pot by telling them you’ll match whatever they save. For the little ones it could be as simple as setting up 2 jars, one for their summer goal (like a super-soaker, hula hoop, or the ingredients for s’mores) and one for the rest of their allowance. They’ll love seeing the jars fill up with coins and counting and re-counting their money. For older kids who are saving for a concert ticket or a tattoo (just kidding!), an app or a website that keeps track of their savings and your matching funds is a great way of getting them interested.

EARNING

Nothing like learning the satisfaction of having your “own” money! Even if your older children have an actual summer job, consider “hiring” them for extra chores like organizing your photo files, digitizing old cassettes and CDs, or washing the windows. For the little ones, watering plants, pulling up 20 weeds (counting skills!) or helping you rinse the car can help add their allowance jars.

INVESTING

There are fun games to teach kids of all ages about the stock market, investing, and the power of compound interest (like InvestQuest from the FTC.) The best way of course, though, is to follow the real stock market. Why not have every family member invest a virtual $1000 in 2 companies whose products they know at the beginning of the summer (Lego and Disney for the younger kids, for instance) and see who ends up with the most virtual profit by the end of the summer. Or, if you have the resources, open accounts for the kids with real investments, however small, so they can watch them go up and down, while earning interest, over the months and years ahead. The SEC’s site Investor.gov has a great compound interest generator to show kids how their money could grow.

SPENDING

Summer is also a great time to teach kids about comparison shopping, supply and demand, and the power of buying things when they are on sale. Keeping track of what you save each time you buy a sale-priced item this summer can be an eye-opening for your kids. As you enjoy vacation trips, or even day trips to waterparks, let your kids know about the value you are getting (rather than complaining about high prices.) Give the kids a choice when possible, telling them how much you have to spend for the day and ask their input about how to spend it. When they know that buying cotton candy means they are giving up two rides they learn a valuable lesson about resource allocation!

READING

Find great books to read or listen to in the car about entrepreneurs’ success stories. Young children will enjoy books about Thomas Edison, for instance, or Alexander Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday. Try a biography of Steve Jobs for the teens, or check out finance videos from Khan Academy.

PAYING

Take a moment to explain what you’re paying for when you’re paying bills: show your kids how the electric bills soar in the summer if you’re use air conditioning or your water bill if you’re watering the lawn. Calculate – or Google – how much it costs when they leave lights on. Not exactly entertaining but an empowering eye-opener for kids.

PLAYING

Nothing like a great game of Monopoly to while away summer nights while teaching kids about saving up for those houses and hotels (including our favorite trick: hiding money under the board so no one sees how much you are accumulating!)

In short, if you treat money matter-of-factly – and build in some challenges, competition, and entertainment – summer can be a great time to sneak in a little fun “schooling” that will help prepare kids for an empowered future.

 

* * * * *

The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.

Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.

The Importance of Personal Finance Knowledge

Financial Knowlege

For years, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has tracked American personal finance knowledge through a survey about saving habits and basic financial principles. FINRA recently released the results of its 2015 survey, which includes the fact that only 37% of those who took the survey could answer four of the five questions on a basic financial literacy quiz. Four out of five is FINRA’s baseline for high financial literacy. Back in 2009, 42% of the respondents were considered to meet this level of financial literacy. (If you’re curious, you can take the quiz here.)

We’ve previously written about biases in financial habits and the desolate state of personal finance education in high school and college, and this study re-confirms our suspicions. Way less than half of the American population has a sufficient understanding of the basic ideas necessary for successful saving and financial planning! That is nearing crisis levels.

Make no mistake–an ignorance of personal finance, while probably unintentional, has serious consequences. Just over half of respondents said they are worried about running out of money in retirement, only one in five are willing to take risks when investing, and 57% say they set long-term financial goals. But, when taken together with those statistics, the most concerning part is that 76% have a high self-assessment of their financial literacy.

As finance writer Jeff Sommer points out in his recent column, this means that Americans don’t know very much about personal finance and saving, but think they do. The positive self-perception is also the only figure to have significantly increased since 2009.

Improving financial conditions can create a false sense of security for many savers who think their current status makes them recession-proof. This is a huge reason why I decided to start my own firm. I recognized the alarming lack of awareness about saving, spending and the markets, and noted many common bad habits that can lead to trouble in an economic downturn. (For related reading, see: Behavioral Finance: How Bias Can Hurt Investing.)

The lack of education is compounded by the unavailability of many big-name institutions who offer financial advice and wealth management services to many. Traditional wealth management practices often have high account minimums that make their financial advice unreachable for most people. Moreover, even if you can open an account with a wealth manager, they may not be required by law to act in only your best interest, which can lead to inefficient investments for you that pay them commissions.

The reality is that many people are scared by the thought of investing. Since many Americans are mostly in the dark, they may not know where to go or how to start. That’s why it’s important to use online resources and educate yourself on all aspects of personal finance. (For related reading, see: 6 Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor.)

This article was originally published on Investopedia.com

***

The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

Financial Failings of NBA Legend Antoine Walker

Antoine Walker

Former NBA All-Star forward Antoine Walker possessed a varied skill-set that enabled him to play both inside and outside. A big man who also shot the three, Walker was notorious for his hilariously erratic shot selection and, later in his career, an aversion to running that led to lazy play.

The quality of financial advice Walker received throughout his career was evidently very close to the quality of his shot attempts, as he filed for bankruptcy in 2010, two years after he retired from the game. In a recent column in the Players’ Tribune, Walker writes a letter to his younger self detailing what went wrong and what he could have done better.

Surprisingly, there are a few money management lessons that anyone—NBA star or not—can apply. (For related reading, see: Do You Need to Change Your Financial Advisor?)

Actively Screen Advisors
Screen advisors before you hire them, and after you do, make sure you know where your money is going. Walker frames his letter with the importance and difficulty of saying “no,” whether to friends asking for money or, most crucially, a friend of a friend who asked for money to start a real estate venture.

The advisor, who Walker met at a dinner with NBA colleagues, started Walker Ventures with bank loans guaranteed by Walker’s personal portfolio, an incredibly risky move. Walker let the advisor have complete control of managing the properties since he was playing basketball nine months of the year. Ultimately, Walker Ventures was forced to close after the housing crash with $20 million of debt. The advisor went to jail, and Walker was forced to file for bankruptcy.

There were a couple ways this could have been prevented. First, Walker didn’t do much due diligence before making the deal. He could have run it by another advisor, who probably would have told him it was structured as an extremely risky venture. Second, because of his schedule, Walker did not adequately check up on the investments.

Many people, particularly young investors, share Walker’s desire to make some money outside of their main job, especially to save for retirement. Finding a financial advisor who is trustworthy, and right for your unique needs, is very important. (For related reading, see: 6 Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor.)

The Upside of Having Someone Say No
Walker’s trouble with the real estate venture was compounded by his reckless spending. While he confesses that he spent lavishly on himself, including a $350,000 Maybach car, it appears that what took the biggest bite out of Walker’s wallet was his spending on family and friends. “I gave them whatever they wanted and spoiled them. You can’t do that,” Walker said in a CNN/Money interview. “It ended up being an open ATM throughout my career.”

While most of us don’t take our friends to a Gucci store and let them buy whatever they want—as Walker has said he did—spending without at least an idea of what is manageable is a problem many people encounter. For young professionals in particular, overspending can seriously hinder retirement saving.

A good financial advisor will do more than simply invest your money. They will incorporate periodic spending goals, major expenditures like vacations, and life events like a new home or wedding into your comprehensive financial plan. Sometimes, this could mean advising against a big purchase for the sake of a long-term goal.

Obviously, we don’t all have $110 million to blow like Antoine Walker. But lackadaisical spending control and being too busy to check on our investments or advisors are traps anyone could fall into. Ensuring that your money is in the right hands is a universally important objective. (For related reading, see: Which Investor Personality Best Describes You?)

This article was originally published on Investopedia.com

***

The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.

Personal Finance – Why Didn’t I Learn That?

I recently returned from a reunion weekend with some of my college buddies. We caught up on wives, kids, work and all the other important parts of our lives. One thing struck me about the conversations, no matter whether I was speaking with liberal arts majors or those who studied corporate finance: While we all know that E=MC2 and maybe even know a fair amount about Einstein’s theory, most of them graduated without having a real clue about personal finance.

In other words, the financial skills we learn in school are not necessarily the ones we need in the real world — at least when it comes to our personal lives.

Personal finance is not typically part of a college curriculum. And while some of us have parents or family members who can guide us along the way, those individuals may not be financial experts, and there is a limit to the help they can provide.

From my experience, most people are interested in financial literacy but don’t know where to go to get started. We all face similar issues, and the less familiar we are with the mechanics of approaching them, the more anxiety-provoking they become.

The younger you learn, the better off you are. When I was in the first grade, I wanted to be Alex P. Keaton, the money-savvy teenager played by Michael J. Fox on the television sitcom “Family Ties.” It was clear early on that I had an affinity for sound saving, investing and growing money. When I was 7, my grandmother gave me a dollar; I turned it into $5, then $50. I am thrilled by the challenge of helping people reach their financial goals at all stages of their lives.

For example, take buying that first home. Your career is on track, and becoming a homeowner seems like an appropriate goal. So with some excitement and anticipation, you decide to start looking.

Then the questions begin flooding in. How much home can I afford? How much should I be saving? When is the ideal time to buy? How does a mortgage work? Will I qualify? What’s my credit score? Do I need insurance? How do property taxes work?

Imagine if there were a course in college (let’s not get crazy and imagine they would teach this in high school) called Personal Finance 101. In addition to the homebuying lessons above, the curriculum could look something like this:

Cash flow and budgeting

Topics covered: What is a budget? How do I create one? How do I know what I can afford?

Building credit and understanding credit cards

Topics covered: What are the advantages and disadvantages of owning a credit card? How should I decide which one to get?

Intro to the stock market and investing

Topics covered: What are the differences in the various investment vehicles — exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit?

Taxes

Topics covered: How do I pay taxes? What do I need to pay attention to in my tax planning?

Future workplace retirement plan options

Topics covered: What is a 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA? When should I start saving? How much should I save?

My guess is that a course like this would be incredibly valuable to many. It’s complicated stuff. It’s important stuff. It’s the kind of stuff that you actually need to know.

This is the main reason I chose to get in this line of work. Younger people have no idea where or how to start, and they have no idea where to find help. Traditional financial management institutions have investment minimums that most of us won’t be able to meet for over a decade, if ever. These minimums can range from $250,000 to $500,000, and sometimes are higher. Even if you were fortunate enough to be accepted by a big institutional investment manager, you’re kidding yourself if you think a large institution is going to take the time to explain to you the difference between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA.

That’s why I chose to create a wealth management model where we would provide the same customized service to all of our clients, without consideration of a minimum initial investment and irrespective of the size of their accounts. We hope that by investing in you early, you’ll see our value for the long term.

If you are reading this and can relate to some of these thoughts, know that it’s not just you. It doesn’t matter whether you majored in art or corporate finance, you almost certainly did not take a class in Personal Finance 101. The good news is, you don’t have to go at it alone. Seek the help that is out there, and learn what you may have missed in college.

This article was originally published on NerdWallet.com

This article also appears on Nasdaq.

 

***

The views expressed in this blog post are as of the date of the posting, and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This blog contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Please note that nothing in this blog post should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any security or separate account. Nothing is intended to be, and you should not consider anything to be, investment, accounting, tax or legal advice. If you would like investment, accounting, tax or legal advice, you should consult with your own financial advisors, accountants, or attorneys regarding your individual circumstances and needs. No advice may be rendered by Sherman Wealth unless a client service agreement is in place.
If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please Contact Us.