By Jim Chilton, CEO and Founder of the Society for Financial Awareness
Editor’s Note: This article is Part 3 of a month-long series on financial illiteracy in America. April marks National Financial Literacy Month, and to help raise Americans’ financial awareness, SafeMoney.com is teaming up with the Society for Financial Awareness (SOFA), a leading financial literacy non-profit, to spread the word. You can find Part 2, “Want a Comfortable Future Retirement? Start Planning Now,” and can read here our dynamic interview with Jim, the CEO and founder of SOFA.
Most of us would agree, as we go through life, we make blunders, mistakes, misjudgments… In short, we all “screw up.” Nothing noteworthy here.
The issue though is, these blunders usually occur from our behavior – the way we are wired. So, when the topic of personal finance, the way we do money, gets discussed, many opinions from many personalities take center stage. Read More
Editor’s Note: This article is Part 2 of a month-long series on financial illiteracy in America. April marks National Financial Literacy Month, and to help raise Americans’ financial awareness, SafeMoney.com is teaming up with the Society for Financial Awareness (SOFA), a leading financial literacy non-profit, to spread the word. You can read here our dynamic interview with Jim Chilton, the CEO and founder of SOFA.
When venturing into the great unknown, you wouldn’t travel without a GPS or a map.
They are a “must-have” for reaching your destination. And for arriving on time, for that matter! How otherwise could you tell if you were going the right direction or if you were lost?
The same principle applies to our retirement. Whether you retire 10 years or 10 months from now, you need a financial plan.
In many ways, a plan is like a financial roadmap. It lays out clear directions for you to take and helps you keep on track.
Yet most people don’t have a roadmap for their future retirement. Just three percent of Americans have a written financial plan, according to Jim Chilton, founder and CEO of the Society for Financial Awareness. Read More
The struggle for financial wellness is real. Four in 10 Americans can’t cover a $400 emergency expense, according to a report by the Federal Reserve Board.
And that is just one sign of the financial strain plaguing America.
Credit card debt is at its highest level in a decade. People are behind on retirement savings. Student loan debt has hit a new record, and Americans continually rate financial stress as one of their top concerns.
April is National Financial Literacy Month, which spotlights a driving factor behind the fiscal heartburn – financial illiteracy – and aims to solve it by raising people’s financial awareness.
To discuss how to tackle the devastating effects of the U.S. financial literacy crisis, we asked for insights from Jim Chilton, founder and CEO of the Society for Financial Awareness (SOFA).
SOFA is a national non-profit, which Chilton started in 1993, with the mission of ending financial illiteracy across America.
Below is a sum-up of the conversation, which covers why financial literacy is important, how people struggle with money matters, and ways to solve the problem. Read More
If consumer studies give any indication, America needs a financial wake-up call.
A lack of consumer financial awareness is taking a toll nationwide, as InvestmentNews covers in a recent story. And the effects of what the advisory news publisher calls a “financial literacy crisis” are significant.
Almost two-thirds of people shows signs of low financial awareness, according to FINRA. Financial advisors also recognize the challenge. In a survey by InvestmentNews, 78% of advisors strongly agreed that financial literacy is of national concern.
WalletHub reports that the average household credit card debt is the highest it has been in nearly a decade. Financial stress is affecting work productivity, according to a recent survey of 10,000 employees by Salary Financial.
Nearly one in two Americans (48%) said they worry about their finances, leading to sleep loss, distractions at work, and other disruptors in work performance. The survey drew responses from employees ranging from entry-level to C-suite professionals.
The pressure to overspend, for one. According to a recent survey by NerdWallet, a little over half of all Americans (51%) say they “typically overspend” on gifts.
Meanwhile, 39.4 million Americans are still paying off debt from last year’s holiday spending spree. And gift shopping is just one of many seasonal expenses that can keep the holiday cash register ringing.
Expenditures such as these can put the strain on retirees, who are more likely to have fixed incomes than other age groups. Not only that, the pressure of growing debt loads can have an impact on people’s retirement goals, not to mention any other financial objectives they may have.
But there is good news. Taking the right steps can go a long way toward achieving more financial security. If you, and your partner, are in your 50s or 60s, it’s good to start laying out your goals, mapping out a strategy for your future, and taking action so your money can work hard for you.
Here are some steps you can take to improve your financial wellness and potentially be more confident for the years ahead. Read More
Do you have a current annuity or insurance policy that doesn’t fit your needs well? If you are on the lookout for a new policy, a 1035 exchange may be a worthwhile option.
A 1035 exchange is a section of the U.S. tax code that lets policyholders replace an existing annuity or insurance policy with a new policy – and with no tax consequences. This tax-free exchange may be used for life insurance policies, modified endowment contracts (MECs for short), and non-qualified annuities toward a new policy.
With new waves of innovation available – such as living benefits for terminal illnesses or long-term care situations – you might wish to explore new options. The good news is you don’t have to keep your current policy forever.
Let’s take a closer look at how a 1035 exchange may and may not benefit a policyholder looking for new annuity or insurance choices. Read More
Editor’s Note: This is the last feature in a fourt-part series on financial education for April, which is National Financial Literacy Month. To see the first part of this series, click here.
As Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” But actually investing in gaining more financial knowledge is an activity that many Americans don’t seem to do.
While studies suggest that lots of people understand the value of financial literacy, the truth is many things compete for our time. When so much is going on, it’s easy to put learning time for money matters on the back-burner. Even so, what we know drives our money behaviors and decisions, and so a gap in knowledge can hit home in many ways.
This is a complex problem for several reasons. For instance, in one survey, GoBankingRates found that over half of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. In another study by TD Ameritrade, 96% of Americans knew what they paid for streaming media services like Netflix, but only 27% knew what they paid in 401(k) plan fees.
In fact, the majority of investors in the TD Ameritrade survey thought they paid no employer plan fees, didn’t know if their plans had fees, or didn’t know how to determine the fees. Other studies have also captured similar data with investors and their familarity with their employer retirement plans.
Editor’s Note: This is the third part of a four-part series on financial literacy in the United States. You can find Part 1 of the series here. Stay tuned for more helpful articles on how you can reach the retirement you have worked hard to attain.
Like other working-age investors, you may have a 401(k) account — or another employer retirement plan. In anticipation of the future, you probably are socking away money for retirement. And if you are lucky, your employer is even contributing to help your nest egg grow even more.
So, take a moment to ask yourself about whether everything makes sense to you. It’s okay to admit not being fluent in your 401(k) – or even retirement in general – because money matters are hard enough for many of us. And when it comes to retirement issues, you aren’t alone.
A comprehensive barometer of U.S. adults’ readiness to make sound financial decisions is found in the TIAA Institute-GFLEC Personal Finance Index (P-Fin Index) from TIAA Institute and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center. This report examines financial literacy across eight common activities: earning, spending, saving, investing, borrowing, insuring, understanding risk, and gathering information.
Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a four-part series on financial literacy in the United States. You can find Part 1 of the series here. Stay tuned for more helpful articles on how you can reach the retirement you have worked hard to attain.
If financial matters concern you, you aren’t alone.
A recent survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Purchasing Power, reveals that 87% of survey participants who are employed full-time (or have a spouse employed full-time) are at least somewhat stressed about their current finances. And 25% of the people feeling the heat over money matters measure their stress level as either “quite a bit” or “a great deal” of stress.
So what’s worrying everyone? Plenty. Household bills are the major cause of financial stress among the 900 participants in the Purchasing Power survey. Read More
Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a four-part series on financial literacy in the United States. Stay tuned for more helpful articles on how you can reach the retirement you have worked hard to attain.
Now that April is here, it’s National Financial Literacy Month. This is a good time to gauge our knowledge and comfort with money matters. Why? Well, because financial literacy is something that affects all of us.
In its research, the FINRA Foundation has found that financial literacy is “strongly correlated with behavior that is indicative of financial capability.” People with high literacy are more likely to plan for retirement, have an emergency fund, and avoid expensive credit card debt. In turn, those behaviors can lead to quality-of-life outcomes, including more financial wellness, more confidence, and more peace of mind.
But in the same breath, studies show a gap between what Americans say they know and how they actually rank in their financial knowledge base. A recent study brief by the FINRA Foundation drives it home.
In the study, nearly two-thirds of Americans failed a quiz on basic financial concepts. Read More
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