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.

Why You Should Consider Buying that Powerball Ticket

Powerball

If you won the Powerball today, what would you do with the $90 million dollars?

While I’m not the first to tell you that you are definitely not going to win the Powerball – you have a 20 times greater  chance of having identical triplets – it’s a great idea to think about what you would do with the 90 million dollars if you did win.

Here’s why: your answer is a great way to understand what you truly care about in life.

What’s the first thing you thought of? Was it “retire and live on a boat in Hawaii?” “Quit my job and become a deejay?” “Book a ride to the Space Station?” Or even just “Stop worrying about how to pay for my kids’ college?”

Your answer – however crazy or however normal –  is a window into what’s really important to you and a great way of evaluating your current financial strategy. Is upgrading your home a potential goal? Have you budgeted enough for your passions? Should you start saving more for more travel and adventure? Have you looked into 529 plans?

As a Financial Advisor, I would advise that you not waste that $2 when it would be better spent collecting compound interest. I would ask you whether you’d already contributed to your 401K plan, your emergency fund, and your other long or short term savings goals. Then I would suggest that if you really wanted to play Powerball, that you re-allocate that $2 from another area –  skipping the caramel latte this morning, for instance, or biking to work tomorrow to save on gas – so that the $2 is amortized.

But I would also tell you to keep dreaming, because those things you are dreaming about are a great way to evaluate whether your current savings and investment goals are tailor-made to help you achieve the life you really want, the life you’d lead if there was nothing standing in your way.

So consider it: if you won $90 million dollars, what’s the first thing you’d do? Now call your financial advisor and take the first step to actually making that happen.

p.s. – If you want to see what your chances of winning actually are, click here to try the LA Times’ Powerball Simulator!

 

***

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.

Has the Internet Replaced Personal Financial Advisors?

human technology

With the wealth of information readily available online, it’s easy to feel that we’re all experts about everything. From scouring the finance blogs and Twitter for the latest “surefire” ways to beat the market, to diagnosing our aches on WebMD, to grilling along with Bobby Flay on YouTube, it can seem like we have almost instant access to the same information as the pros.

So when it comes to personal finances, why is it necessary to have a financial advisor when financial news is so readily available, Twitter is flooded with “hot tips,” robo advisors are ready to automate the whole process for you, and comparison shopping is so easy? Why can’t you just use this treasure trove of information to make your own financial decisions? Or subscribe to an algorithm-based service that will make the best lightning-quick decisions for you?

A couple of reasons…

If you’re good and you dedicate a lot of time online, you can definitely pick up some great information and strategies that the experts are sharing (follow me on Twitter by clicking here!) The tricky part is making sure that the information and the strategies are actually appropriate for you and appropriate right now. We all know that, if we’re not careful, the instantaneous nature of the internet, social media, and impersonal algorithms can lead to impulsive decisions that may not support our own long-term goals and personal risk profile. Quick reactions to new stock market “darlings” or to sudden market volatility can lead to choices that are not the best for your long – or even near – term financial health and growth. In fact, there is a whole science called Behavioral Finance that addresses how personal biases can lead investors to make decisions that actually work against the goals they set for themselves.

A good financial professional is able to sift through the vast amount of information available to you and determine what is significant to your strategy and what may just be a distraction. A financial advisor who understands Behavioral Finance can help you see where your assumptions, habits, and biases about money and investing may be leading you to get in your own way.

The new algorithm-based platforms are increasingly interesting and have a lot of merit, but the level of personalization is not yet very deep. That means that portfolios are based on broad criteria that may have nothing to do with your current situation, lifestyle, and goals. Again, this is where a trained professional will be able to view your unique individual needs and create a tailored strategy that is geared to you and not just everyone who matches your age and salary level. As more and more fiduciary financial advisors are starting to use smart algorithms as part of their offerings where appropriate, the key is “where appropriate” and “in the clients’ best interest,” the very definition of a fiduciary.

Think about it: would you rather grill along with Bobby Flay on your iPad or would you rather have regular meetings with Bobby, where he looks at the size and model of your Weber, the size of your shrimp, and the recipes you’re trying to learn, and works with you to make sure you become the master of your own grill? (and shrimp!)

The same goes for your financial future. While do-it-yourself is getting easier and easier, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s getting better and better. Look for a fiduciary financial advisor who also has access to the latest information online and is familiar with the latest algorithmic innovations, but who uses that information to get to know clients individually, and tailors a long-term growth strategy for them that will put them on the road to achieving the goals they have set for themselves.

 

With over a decade’s worth of experience in financial services, Brad Sherman is committed to helping his clients pursue their financial goals. Learn more about our Financial Advisor services.

Follow us on Twitter to stay up-to-date with investment news and wealth management information.

LFS-1279430-082115

 

Do You Share These 4 Habits of the Wealthy?

Wealthy Habits

In his book “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits Of Wealthy Individuals,” author Thomas Corley outlines what he learned when he surveyed both wealthy and struggling Americans about their habits and attitudes.

Here are a few “rich habits” he identified that are worth integrating into your professional, financial, and even personal life, to help you on the road to achieving your own goals.

The Wealthy are Goal-Oriented

Corley found that 67% of the wealthy people he surveyed put their goals in writing, 62% of them focus on their goals every day, and a whopping 81% keep a to-do list.

It’s hard to reach your goals if you’re not focused on them and they’re not your top priority, and it can be daunting to have too many goals (one reason so few people are able to keep their New Year’s Resolutions.)

A more productive approach is to prioritize one important goal, create a plan of actionable steps that help you accomplish that goal, then add those steps, tasks and habits to your daily to-do list. These three simple steps will give your increased focus and will help you move closer to that goal.

Once you’ve incorporated them in your daily routine, identify a second goal and follow the same plan. The key to success is taking it one step at a time!

The Wealthy Use Downtime Wisely

At the end of your workday, do you like to relax with Netflix, video games, or YouTube? According to Corley’s data, 66% of the wealthy said that they watch less than an hour of television a day, 63% spend less than an hour a day on the Internet unless it is job-related, an impressive 79% say they read career and educational material each day, and an equally impressive 63% said “I listen to audio books during the commute to work.”

While we all like to relax and recharge with entertaining media, that time can never be recovered for things that help you become a stronger, more successful individual like reading, networking, exercising, or volunteering for a cause you believe in.

Time is the great equalizer: we all have 24 hours a day. What you choose to do with that time can either help you to reach your financial and life goals, or distract you from it, so choose wisely!

The Wealthy Invest in Their Future

Corley’s research also showed that the wealthy live within their means, pay themselves first, and don’t overspend.

Building wealth is not accomplished by upgrading to each new electronic gadget, leasing the newest model car, and living in an extravagant home. The wealthy, according to Corley, spend less than they earn, own and maintain their cars for many years, and save a significant portion of their income. While saving money and living modestly is not as sexy as a flashy smartphone, it will go a lot further toward providing a comfortable future.

Living within your means also includes not carrying credit card balances or heavy debt. When you are carrying debt, what you earn today is paying for yesterday’s expenses. Living within your means while saving and investing a portion of your income lets you invest in tomorrow, rather than yesterday, while learning to be satisfied with what you have today.

The Wealthy are Willing to Take Risks

Another fascinating finding of Corley’s research is that 63% of the wealthy people he interviewed said they that they had taken risks in search of wealth, while only 6% of the struggling Americans he interviewed said that they had taken risks.

For many, fear of failure is a great de-motivator and can be paralyzing. When you do not fully understand something, whether it’s a challenge, a potential project, an investment, or even a social problem, it can be easier to do nothing than to act. But without risk, there is often no reward.

What Corley discovered is that, instead, rather than fearing failure, the wealthy consider failure to be part of the process and – most importantly – an opportunity to learn.

How can you face risk without fear so that you can seize potential opportunities? Educating yourself is the key step. Researching the investment, the project, or the choice, and learning about the options and risks, help keep fear and anxiety about the unknown from clouding your decision-making process.

Even with the best preparation though, choices don’t turn out as envisioned. When that happens, take a page from the wealthy: learning from those failures and experiences will lead to more opportunities and better choices down the road!

Are Your Own Habits Setting You Up for Success?

While following each of these habits may not make you rich, they will certainly help you get into a success mind-set. 68% of the Americans on Forbes billionaire list consider themselves to be “self-made billionaires,” which means that they worked hard to reach their own professional and financial goals. The true route to financial success is through discipline and steady habits that grow your net worth over time.

Do you already share these four habits of the wealthy? If so, congratulations on your focus and your commitment to success. If not, try adopting one – or all four – of these important habits and see if it doesn’t get you closer to achieving your own goals!

 

With over a decade’s worth of experience in financial services, Brad Sherman is committed to helping his clients pursue their financial goals. Contact Brad today to learn more about how you can better pursue yours.

Learn more about our Financial Advisor services.

Follow us on Twitter to stay up-to-date with investment news and wealth management information.

LFS-1263527-080315

7 Ways to Maximize A Bonus or a Raise

Pre Retiree

Just got a bonus or a raise? Read these tips before you start Googling airfares to Thailand…

Using a bonus or a raise to catch up in financial areas where you’ve fallen behind is a great way to jump start 2015. From paying off high interest debt to setting up a college savings plan, there are plenty of smart ways to put that chunk of change to good use.

Pay off High Interest Loans

It may feel impossible to escape the credit card damage you did in college or mounting loans. But you actually can make a dent in your debt by using your bonus for a large payment. This lowers your balance and minimizes some of those high interest charges moving forward. Get a snapshot of where you stand with the Debt Repayment Calculator from Credit Karma.

Rebalance Your Investment Portfolio

Those extra funds are a great reason to take a closer look at your assets and determine what’s working and what’s not. We can help you adjust to create the right balance between return and risk, ensuring you’re pursing both long and short-term financial goals.

Start a College Savings Plan 

Even if your kids are in diapers, it’s never too early to start saving for their college education. By starting early and using the variety of college savings programs available today, you can get a good head start on a college savings account.  There are a couple of different types of college savings savings plans and each has different features and potential tax benefits.    A financial advisor can help you determine the plan that suits your situation.  The College Savings Plan Network also offers great resources and tips for getting started.

Think About Retiring

Unless you received a really enormous bonus, we don’t mean retire now. But if you haven’t reached your company’s 401(k) contribution limits, use your bonus to max out those weekly or monthly contributions. If your employer matches… consider that bonus doubled.

Open an Investment Account

Planning for the future can be daunting, especially when you have large expenses to deal with now. But the earlier you start investing (even low monthly contributions), the longer your money has to grow.  Rather than let it sit in your checking account, create an investment account with your bonus to kick-start a financial safety net.

Prep for an Emergency

Fun? No. Smart? Yes. Unexpected issues pop up and can throw your monthly budget off track. Get prepared by setting up a fund for irregular expenses and circumstances like job loss, repairs, or costly medical bills for people and pets. A good rule of thumb is to have three to six months of expenses saved up for those worst-case scenarios.

Save for a Rainy Day

It may be tempting to book a trip somewhere warm or buy a TV that covers every square inch of your wall space. While it’s best to take care of outstanding debt and invest wisely, you deserve to have a little fun for burning the midnight oil at the office all year. Be sure to put a small portion of your bonus aside to treat yourself or your family to something special when the time is right.

 

 

LFS-1094780-011215