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.

Got a Raise? Here’s How to Avoid Lifestyle Creep

lifestyle creep

We work with a lot of young professionals and because of that, we get the pleasure of seeing many of our clients progress up the ladder in their career. With this often comes more responsibility but also more money. A raise is something you should be proud of as it represents the payoff from the sacrifices you have made and the hard work you put in. This calls for a celebration, as it should!

At the same time, it is crucial to make sure you don’t fall victim to the dreaded lifestyle creep, famously coined by financial planner Michael Kitces. The basic concept of lifestyle creep is that as your discretionary income goes up (you get a raise), your standard of living goes up with it. For example, before you stuck to a dining budget where you only ate out on weekends, but now you are doing so two times a week.

We recently wrote about how a former NBA star filed for bankruptcy after earning more than $100 million on the court. Read below on some tips to help you avoid some of these mistakes.

Why Lifestyle Creep Is a Problem

Living above your means is a recipe for financial trouble. We constantly preach that it’s not about how much you make, but how much you save. By earning more money, you have the opportunity to save more. Take advantage of these opportunities by really thinking about what is a necessity vs. what is a luxury.

Read below on some tips to help you avoid some of these mistakes.

  • Write down and revisit your goals
  • Maybe your goals have changed, maybe they haven’t. By revisiting them, remind yourself what is important to you and you can then make sure that is what you are spending your money on.
  • One additional suggestion is to not make any purchases with the money you are receiving from your raise for the first month after receiving it. This gives you time to digest the news and will give you the ability to make more rational purchase decisions. If you still want to buy it after a month, then go for it.
  • Create and update your budget
  • If you don’t already have a budget, now is the perfect time to create one. If your boss gives you a $10,000 raise, that comes out to about $830 per month before taxes. With your goals in mind from tip No. 1, lay out all of your expenses and determine where the money should go each month. By having a set schedule, you reduce the urge to make impulse purchases because you see a large number in your checking account. (For related reading, see: The Conflicts of Interest Around 401(k)s.)
  • Set up automatic saving account deductions
  • Now that you have a defined list of goals and a budget to help you achieve them, it is time to put the plan into action. There are numerous banks that we recommend to our clients that give you the ability to create multiple savings accounts to bucket your savings based on your goals. Create accounts for each of your goals and set up automatic transfers to these accounts from each paycheck you receive.
  • In addition to your emergency fund account and other savings goals, make sure to give yourself a fun account that can be used to spend on celebrations such as getting a raise!
  • Increase or max out your retirement contribution
  • As part of your budget, look at how much you are contributing to your retirement account each month. If you have the opportunity to increase your contribution, that is a great option to consider. If you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k), not only are you saving more for retirement, but you are also lowering your taxable income that just increased because of your raise. You may even qualify for an employer match, which makes these savings even greater!

After working so hard to get to where you are now, you should give yourself a chance to enjoy that success and celebrate. The important part is keeping an eye on the big picture and not letting your short-term emotions get in the way of achieving your true financial goals. By creating a plan that is realistic and one that you feel you can stick to, you dramatically increase your chances of success. (For related reading, see: How to Cut Back on Spending Like a Billionaire.)
This article was originally published on Investopedia.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.

How to Cut Back on Spending Like a Billionaire

How to Cut Spending

Even the richest few people in the world maintain some financially cautious habits. Warren Buffett (who, by our math, is worth more than all of the NFL’s teams combined) famously still lives in the same Omaha house he bought for $31,500 in 1958. Many of the world’s wealthiest don’t indulge in extravagance, even with billions at their disposal (and when they do, it’s not always a happy ending.)

While this ranges in degrees of neuroticism from simply wanting to give most of the fortune to charity to an Indian tech mogul monitoring employees to track toilet paper usage and make sure they shut off the office lights, wealth is not accumulated by throwing money away. (For related reading, see: The Importance of Personal Finance Knowledge.)

Frugalities of the Rich

While of course most people don’t have $51 billion like Mark Zuckerberg, there are undoubtedly some lessons to extract from the financial behavior of the wealthy. All of them have certain habits where they save money. Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen packs a brown-bag lunch from home every day and Zuckerberg reportedly drives a Volkswagen hatchback (although this could just be a Peter Gregory-style “Silicon Valley” mannerism).

At the same time, neither of these routines are specific requisites for financial success. But they do indicate the importance of planning expenditures and saving where possible. That’s where a financial advisor can be of help. We don’t believe in telling you to lose your favorite habits. If you enjoy a latte from Starbucks every morning, then by all means you should keep getting that latte. But good financial planning includes understanding trade-offs between keeping things you enjoy and cutting down on things you can live without. (For related reading, see: 6 Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor.)

Planning cash flows goes a long way toward reaching this goal. It is impossible to know how much you need to trim (or have room to grow) without first taking stock of what’s coming in and what’s going out. If your different bank and credit card accounts are the canvas, the actual cash flows are the paint that makes up the picture of overall financial health.

A good financial planner shouldn’t act like a strict parent that never lets their kid eat dessert or play outside. Their goal should be to work with you to understand your financial situation, both in broad strokes and the details of monthly spending. That way, they can help you make decisions about where best to deploy your spending money. This isn’t always easy—sometimes trade-offs have to be made. But when even billionaires are bringing lunch from home, we all owe it to ourselves to thoroughly examine our spending habits. (For related reading, see: Why Investors Can Be Their Own Worst Enemy.)

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.

Finding Financial Independence

Financial Independence

Financial Independence has become the goal for many who struggle with the overwhelming task of funding a long term retirement strategy that is so far away. In a world where jobs are constantly changing, skills need continual updating and stability is hard to find, many are rethinking how retirement is viewed. Instead of thinking of retirement as a destination 30 or 40 years from now that must be funded with a huge cash reserve, thinking of creating financial independence through passive income streams feels more attainable.

If financial independence is a strategy that will provide ongoing income there are several things that must be accomplished to make this a reality. Here are some tips and ideas on creating passive income.

What Is Passive Income

Creating a passive income stream, looks at investment opportunities through the lens of providing ongoing income, rather than accumulating large amounts of investments that will be withdrawn at some point in the future. The traditional passive income streams were social security and pension plans which would pay a set amount of money each month until you die. With these passive income streams additional work was not required and the funds would last until you died, ensuring you would never outlive the money.

Today those traditional passive income streams like pensions cannot be relied on. This has left workers with 401ks and IRAs as the funding options for retirement. These are great options, but with jobs changing and the average worker going through a dozen or more jobs in a career, even this is not enough to provide ongoing security. This has required Millennials to be more creative when they think about savings, investing and preparing for an uncertain future.

Having an investment portfolio that can provide a monthly income stream, a business that produces ongoing income, rental property, part time work or freelancing are all options for ongoing income. In the beginning these options require work and forethought but over time they can produce a passive income stream that can provide much higher levels of security.

Keys to Building Passive Income

Start Early

As with all investments the more time a plan has to work and develop the better it will work for you. If you have a hobby you are passionate about that you can build into a viable business, starting now will give you decades to build the business into an operation that requires less of your time and attention. This income can then provide as a respite if you have employment gaps throughout your career. With both nontraditional and traditional investments alike, starting early will reap the highest level of benefits and income.

Watch Spending

Living frugally became a buzzword a few years back as it became more mainstream. Living within your means will always provide money that can be invested in your future, instead of paying for yesterday’s spending. The other advantage to frugal living is that you need less passive income to maintain your quality of life. As your income increases throughout your career, keeping your spending in tact will be rewarded with more investments that can be directed toward passive income opportunities.

Keep Your Eyes Open for Opportunities

Passive income requires creativity with investments. It means thinking in terms of multiple streams of income and investment options that will grow during your working years and then produce income when you need it. Many opportunities do not produce passive income immediately, but will over time.

When you look at adding activities to your life that are more fulfilling, investment opportunities will present themselves. This might be a chance to earn a second income doing something you love. It might mean nontraditional ways of earning money. Thinking outside the box is the key. One friend buys fireworks when they really inexpensive, before the season and then sells them during the holidays where fireworks are popular (4th of July and New Year’s being the two best holidays). This gives him a boost of several thousand dollars a few times a year. He then takes those earnings and invests them to build a portfolio of passive income that he can later use. Income and investment opportunities are everywhere when you are looking for them.

Be Patient

While we get used to instant gratification, the best things in life take both our time and energy. They do not always work out like we planned but they are worth our time and effort because in the end they pay off. Investments are the same way. When looking for passive income streams be willing to look at the long term benefits and dedicate the time necessary to grow your investments in a strategic way.

It is a lot less overwhelming to think in terms of establishing an income stream of $3,000 to $4,000 a month, than to think in terms of needing to save a million dollars for a comfortable retirement. Changing the way you look at investments might be just what you need to get started on your way to financial independence.

Learn more about our Retirement Planning services.

Related Reading:

Four Things Entrepreneurs Can do Now to Save for Retirement 

YOLO (You Only Live Once) so you Need a Retirement Goal

Your 401K Program: A Little Savings Now Goes a Long Way

How Much Money do you Need for Retirement These Days?

The Benefits of Saving Early for Retirement

Advantages of Participating in Your Workplace Retirement Plan

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