Tag Archive for financial literacy

“I’m giving my two week notice”

Every employer dreads the phrase “I’m giving you two weeks notice”. It means that change is afloat the the hunt for a new employee must begin.

Last week I heard the dreaded words above and had to immediately go into overdrive seeking a replacement. There is so much that must be done before posting for a job. I had to review our current organizational needs and determine if the position and job description of the person I was replacing was going to meet our current organizational need. From there I had to then make the changes to the position and job description and figure out how I would be be able to identify good candidates.

Financial Beginnings is seeking a full-time Program Manager to join our team. I have been posting the position on all applicable job boards (within budget) in hopes of notifying qualified candidates.

Still, I think where I am going to find the best candidates is within my networks. We have over 500 volunteers in our system and many more that are on on our mailing list. These people are already passionate about financial education and Financial Beginnings. Who better to promote the new position?

Reading Brent Hunsberger’s article How to brush up on your networking and job search during the holidays this morning, I was thinking this came at the perfect time! I posted a comment on his blog too about our open position.

Brent’s article talks about how it’s worth job seekers’ time to network because this is likely how they are going to find their next job. I’m taking the same strategy as an employer. At every meeting I attended this week I mentioned the open position and immediately was getting words of excitement from people about possible candidates they were going to tell.

And this is just one more attempt to delve into my network for qualified candidates. Please spread the word about our open position!

Job Description

Creating financially literate youth is a community responsibility

After Brent Hunsberger article, Oregon’s strong K-12 financial literacy standards still aren’t ideal,  last week I thought I’d expand upon the need for the entire community to embrace the need to raise money smart children.

When I was young, money was tight in our household, and my parents taught me the importance of budgeting. However, there were many areas regarding financial education in which my parents were not knowledgeable or comfortable, which led to little discussion on topics such as investing or insurance. Research confirms that the interactions I had with my family regarding personal finances were similar to many others. In a 2011 survey by T. Rowe Price entitled, “Parents, Kids & Money,” only 28 percent of parents said they felt “very prepared” to teach their children about basic finances.

My parents were not my only source for finance education. When I attended high school, personal finance was a mandatory half-credit course, but this requirement was removed in 1997. Since then, it has been difficult to track if and how personal finance is included in school curriculum and instruction. Not surprisingly, a 2010 survey by Pollinate entitled, “Teacher Attitudes and Beliefs About Teaching Financial Literacy,” found that 42 percent of teachers indicated they were “not at all confident” or only “somewhat confident” in their understanding of personal finance concepts.

The recent adoption of new Social Science Content Standards in Oregon is a step in the right direction for Oregon youth getting more instruction in personal finance. The new standards, coming this school year, include financial literacy as a standalone requirement in high school and earlier introduction to financial literacy concepts in K-8.

Still, even with improvements to the financial literacy standards, there is a gap that desperately needs to be filled. In short, young people still need personal finance education to become successful adults and knowledgeable consumers. It should not be the sole responsibility of parents or the education system to ensure we bring up financially literate consumers. It is truly a community responsibility, and as the recent economic downturn has demonstrated, personal financial mismanagement can quickly become a community burden.

Personal finance is a constantly evolving subject. Think back to how the financial industry has changed from more than 20 years ago – when cash, and not credit, was the norm, and interest-only mortgages were unheard of. The rapidly evolving industry, coupled with the lack of a required in-school finance courses, is precisely why Portland-based Financial Beginnings was created. This organization helps parents and teachers keep up with the bevy of regulation changes and trends in the financial market.

Financial Beginnings provides free financial education to children and young adults, with local professionals from the financial services industry teaching everything from basic budgeting to investing. This partnership not only benefits the students but also the participating banks, credit unions and local businesses. Supporting such financial literacy nonprofits allows these organizations to create more informed future customers and members, and fosters a positive image for companies serving our community.

As our schools continue to face more budget cuts, and the economic climate keeps the need for financial literacy at the forefront, the demand for business involvement and support grows. Financial Beginnings is fortunate to have strong support from local businesses, banks, credit unions, CPA firms and financial advisors to meet this demand. These groups provide not just financial support but volunteers who teach our curriculum as well. These local volunteers and supporters champion the financial literacy effort and help fill this education gap.

One of our most successful models – and a model we hope to replicate – is our partnership with Bank of America. For the second year in a row, Bank of America is Financial Beginnings’ Partner of the Year because of the incredible employee volunteer model they have built with our organization – training more than 100 Bank employees to teach in community schools. In the past year, Bank of America employees served 1,546 young people at 23 schools and community groups in Portland by visiting classrooms and teaching students about the importance of financial literacy. Financial Beginnings would like to replicate this model with other companies.

Financial Beginnings is always looking for classroom volunteers and corporate partners. Volunteer training is free and an ideal way for businesses to connect with our schools and young people to ensure a thriving future local economy.

For more details on Financial Beginnings volunteer training programs or to support its programming efforts, visit www.financialbeginnings.org.

The History of Personal Finance Education in Oregon

I got a call today from a California Jump$tart board member who was doing a survey of the states to find out each state’s educational requirements in finance education. I was once again reminded of Oregon’s digression in their financial education requirements, while we are seeing other states progressing in this area.

So let’s start with some history. Until 1997 Oregon’s high school students were required to have one semester or ½ credit in personal finance in order to graduate. Since then personal finance has been required in the Oregon Academic Content Standards as a small section under the Economics requirements. Here is a link to the Oregon Academic Content Standards http://www.ode.state.or.us/teachlearn/real/documents/ss.pdf

In 1998 The National Council for Economic Education did a survey of the states to find out what requirements there were around finance education. In 1998 there was only one state that required a course in personal finance be taken. The most recent survey results from 2007 showed that seven schools now required a course. Here is a link to the report http://www.ncee.net/about/survey2007/NCEESurvey2007.pdf

In 2007 the Oregon Legislature realized the lack of financial education and assembled a legislative task force to “study and make recommendations about how to increase and improve civics and financial education in kindergarten through grade 12”. I served on this task force and the final report was produced and presented to the legislature in October 2008. Here is a link to the task force’s page http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=1836.

In 2009, as a result of the report Senator Rick Metsger presented a house bill to bring back the ½ credit personal finance graduation requirement which did not make it out of committee.

So where do we go from here? Why is it that Oregon was one of the few states that had it right long ago, but dropped personal finance?

How Financial Beginning Began

I have no idea how the whole blog thing works, but my web guys says to “just write” so I will.  This is strange for me since I pay an amazing person (www.kelleynpc.com ) to do all of my writing for the business because, after all, I am a finance person and we’re not known for our writing skills.  I’m not quite sure what my focus for this blog will be.  I want to share information and stories to further the financial literacy movement, but will this going to interest an online crowd?  I’d also like to inspire people.  I know very cliché, but I love what I do and I’d love to help others do the same.  I created the position I’m in and the organization I work for and it has far exceeded my expectations.  Still, I’ve gone through a lot to get to where I’m at so maybe sharing some of my struggles along the way will help too.  So where to start?  I guess I’ll start from the beginning and how Financial Beginnings (www.financialbeginnings.org ) came to be.

I grew up in this little manufactured home in the middle of the woods the younger of two kids.  When I was young we were poor, though I didn’t realize it at the time.  My mother was going to college and working nights while my dad worked during the day.  It’s funny now looking back on when my family had more money, the only thing that sticks out in mind as changing is the food got a lot better around the house.  Suddenly we had bagels and juice on hand, which we never had before.

It was a combination of have less when we were younger and being fifth generation cheap, which helped my parents to instill some very valuable financial habits into my brother and me.  I knew when it was appropriate to ask my parents for money, such as if my shoes were falling apart or there was a field trip at school I wanted to go on.  I would never go up to my parents and ask for money if I was going out to the movies with friends.  We were given an allowance and expected to work if we wanted money to go out.  Which, I did.  I babysat, house sat, and worked at the local Dairy Queen.

When I turn 16 and got my driver’s license I remember my dad saying that I could use his car whenever I wanted.  Still, that came at a price.  He took the average gas price by the average miles per gallon the car got and charged me for my mileage.  He had a book in the car that I had to write down the mileage on when I entered and left the car.  Then at the end of the week when it came time for allowance he’d give me my $10 and then take it right back to cover my mileage expenses.  Within about two months I bought my own car.

At 16 I reached another financial milestone.  I got my first credit card, now I’ll pause for the gasps.  A credit card company sent out an advertisement to get a credit card before the legal age of 18 by having your parents co-sign.  I convinced my parents this was a good idea and then entered the world of debt.  The credit card came conveniently right before prom; needless to say I ended up looking awesome with a new dress, shoes, hair done, the works.  And needless to say my parents and I had a talk when they opened up the first credit card statement.  That month I also learned about late fees.  I got my bill sent it out a week before it was due and it gets there after the due date and I get a $25 late fee.  I was so mad when I got my next statement; I called my attorney uncle to verify if this injustice was legal.  He assured me it was.

When I was legally able to be held to a contractual obligation at 18 I went out and financed a car.  I was very proud that I got out of the dealership thinking I hadn’t been taken.  I went in there telling them I wanted a car under $10,000, he showed me a car, I fell in love when to sign the documents and the price showed as 12,000.  I told them this was unacceptable and they agreed to drop it down to the $10,000 but would only give me $100 for my trade it.  I ended up leaving with both cars, a loan at 13% and a $2000 warranty because “the lender said I had to have one”.  Yah, I wasn’t taken.  It wasn’t until I later worked for that finance company that I learned the dealer forced the warranty on me and that 13% was not a good rate to be paying.

Remember that car I was going to trade in for $100, well I kept it and sold it the next day for $1000.  Yah for me right?  Well when I called to get my first insurance policy on my own the first six months of insurance conveniently ended up being $1000.  When I called and got my first insurance policy I just called and said I need “full coverage” and they told me how much to pay.  It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I met with a financial advisor and he told me I was crazy for being married with a house and only carrying the state minimums and I immediately bumped up my insurance.  My insurance agent never took the time to explain to me what the limits meant and the importance of them.

It was this same agent who did not tell me about renter’s insurance until I asked about after getting a call from the maintenance man at my apartment asking me if he could enter because they heard water running in my apartment.

From the time I left high school I realized that I could not accept being a poor college student.  So I went to school full time and worked part time.  At first I found that I was not interested in college and my grades suffered because of it.  So I dropped school to part time and increased my work to full time.

My work experience in the finance industry was working for Meier & Frank collecting on their department store credit cards.  Imagine me, not yet legal to have my own credit card, calling people to collect on an outfit they bought last year and now don’t want to wear because it’s out of style.  You can imagine with all of the bills people had, paying their M&F card was not high on the list.  I heard every excuse in the book.

I then upgraded and moved onto collecting on auto loans.  I found this to be much easier as cars are higher on people’s priority list to pay.  I was assigned a group of accounts and found that the same people delinquent time and time again.  The customers came to know me quite well.  I recall getting a call from a customer one time telling me that his Audi A8 was stolen.  I let him know he should call the police.  He said he was worried about the payment though and I told him he would need to file an insurance claim.  I then discovered the reason for his worry…his insurance policy had lapsed and he had no coverage.  A $38,000 vehicle was stolen and he still owned the full amount.

I also recall one customer that had two vehicles financed and both were severely past due.  I had to send both cars out to be repossessed.  The customer called me and worked out a way to keep the vehicles.  He then sent a letter to my manager tell him how great I was to work with.  I think this is what must customers do not realize.  If they just work with the finance company there are ways to make the situation work out for both parties.

I recall my friend and I talking at work about how uneducated the customers were.  How they did not realize how their credit was affected by their slow payments. How we were asked multiple times if they could just give back the car and call it even.  He came up with a wonderful idea…. Finance companies hiring individuals to go into the classroom and teach about credit!  They would be creating good consumers and in turn lowering their exposure to loss.  I loved the idea and told him that I was going to work on how to make it happen.  But, life goes on and so do the bills that go with it so this had to take a back seat to everything else.

Newly married my husband and I went to a financial advisor and learned the amazing concept of compound interest.  This was an eye opening experience.  He informed us that the state insurance requirements were not enough to protect ourselves, our homes and our assets.  Who knew?  When I got my car insurance I told the agent I wanted “full coverage” I didn’t understand that just meant the minimum liability requirements and collision coverage to protect the finance company.  We immediately increased our liability insurance and purchased and umbrella policy.

We also discussed investing with the advisor.  At the time $2000 was the maximum amount one to contribute annually towards an IRA.  The advisor turned to my husband who was seven years old than me and told my husband if he were to put $2000 away each year until he was 60 he would have $800,000.  Wow!  He then turned to me and said with you getting a seven year head start you will end up with over 2 millions.  Wait a minute!  Seven years younger at $2000 a year, that means I only put away $14000 more and I end up with over double.  Compound Interest!

I was so excited by what we had learned from our financial advisor that I decided this was the career for me.  I was focused and needed to return to school to obtain the education I needed.  Obviously, majoring in finance seemed like the natural path.  I went back to school full time and with this new focus I found that I was a model student.  I was driven to become a financial advisor.  I obtained by BS in Business Administration focusing in Finance.  Still I never had to take personal finance as a required course. My finance courses were all focused on being a financial analyst.

While finishing up school I obtained my insurance and securities licenses with ease.  I was ready to go out and help people prepare for retirement.  Still nobody had ever told me this was actually a sales job!  Since I had gone seeking this information when I got married I just assumed everyone else did too.  I did not realize that most people actually have to be sold on the concept of preparing for retirement.  And they definitely did not was to be sold by a 22 year old blond.  I quickly left this field unable to accept the negative salary I was earning.

I entered the job market and found this to be a very hard time to find a job.  The economy was slow and there were not enough jobs to go around.  I found a job as a liability claims adjuster.  It was a great job because of the flexibility that came with it.  It also was similar to the collections industry because I had to deal with people in hard situations.  I excelled at the job and moved up very quickly.  I was repeatedly amazed by how people failed to properly project themselves.  There were multiple times where the people I worked with did not have enough insurance to cover the loss leaving themselves open to large debt obligations.

Throughout each of the different parts of the finance industry I worked in I found a lack of financial literacy among customers and how this lack of knowledge ledge to heartache.  I increased my research in providing finance education to youth.  I originally planned on proposing the idea to a credit card company, but after my experience as a financial advisors and insurance claims adjuster I realized that providing credit education was not enough.  Students needed a comprehensive program to provide them the foundation they need in personal finance.  Students need to know about banking, insurance, credit and savings & investing.  And that is how Financial Beginnings was born.

www.financialbeginnings.org