LACK OF FINANCIAL LITERACY IN AMERICA’S SCHOOLS

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“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

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.

kids managing money

 

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 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.

 

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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.

Where Millennials Can Turn for Financial Advice

Sherman Wealth Management | Fee Only Fiduciary

We live in a fascinating time. The biggest wealth transfer in history is beginning, as Millennials will soon become the wealth bearing demographic in this county.  Not surprisingly, as we pointed out in a recent blog post, personal finance is a huge issue for many Millennials. But where can a Millennial turn for advice?

Goals, dreams, jobs, family plans, etc. are going to vary widely, but there a few common themes that seem relevant across the spectrum. We constantly write on many of these issues, so decided to summarize the topics for you and answer some of those nagging questions.

 

  • Getting started is often the hardest part. Beginning a savings plan early is key, which makes planning all the more important. We constantly preach the importance of determining your short, intermediate and long term goals and then focusing on creating a plan on how to achieve them. Having the “money conversation” is a great way to get started. Remember, it’s not how much you make, but how much you save. Read more here on getting started with the money conversation.

 

  • Student Loans/Debt – A common financial hurdle for many millennials is navigating student loans. So how do you determine if your focus should be on accelerating the payoff of that debt or maximizing saving instead? We wrote about that here.

 

 

  • Knowing Who to Trust – Even if you understand the advantages of investing in the stock market, it’s not always easy to find a professional you can trust. A recent facebook study shows that over 50% of millennials have no one to trust for financial guidance.

 

FB Study

Source: insights.fb.com

 

A few months back we wrote a piece titled “Why Go Where Your Money’s Not Wanted” that touches on the point of many financial institutions turning down Millennials as clients. Most of the corporate institutions prefer high-net worth clients because it creates “efficiencies of scale” and a higher profit margin on larger trades. As frustrating as the requirement for a high minimum balance is for first time investors, it’s actually one of the main reasons I created Sherman Wealth Management. It was important to me to make sure top notch financial advice was available to anyone and everyone,  particularly to those who are starting out on the path to wealth accumulation. We created this guide to make sure you are asking your potential financial advisors the right questions to determine if they are right for you. – 6 Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor

 

  • Marriage – Getting married is more than just substituting the word “ours” for “yours” and “mine”. It’s combining your finances, histories, dreams, aspirations, possessions – even your music – and making all of that “ours” too. If you have started to think about marriage, or are married already, there are a few financial discussions you should be sure you have.  Since a significant part of those pre-marital dreams and aspirations involve money, having multiple financial conversations before marriage (or right after, if you’re newlyweds!) can help you start married life on a firmer footing, with regard to financial goals. Here are two blogs we wrote for those getting married or already married.

 

  • Buying a house – There are studies out there saying that Millennials are not buying houses. A prudent home purchase often can be one of the most stable and solid investments a young person can make. So why the hesitation? Some Millennials wonder if given the rate increase and current market turmoil – if this is really the right time to purchase a first home, or if renting makes more sense for you right now? We wrote about this exact topic here.

 

  • Kids – Babies change your life in many ways, including requiring large amounts of time and money. While you may already be thinking about childcare costs and options, or about paying the medical bills that accompanied your new child, there are several other – important – financial considerations you should be thinking about even before the new baby arrives – 5 Planning Tips for New Parents

 

If this all seems overwhelming, don’t be discouraged. Personal finance is a journey and everyone is going to take a slightly different path. Taking the initiative to educate yourself on these topics is a great 1st step.

We are passionate about improving financial literacy in our society which is why we try to write blogs like these that will be useful to those trying to navigate the rocky waters on personal finance. If there are additional topics you would like us to write about, we would love to hear your thoughts! Email us at info@shermanwealth.com.

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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.

 

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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.