A new survey authorized by the Fifth Third Bank and performed by Research Now, reveals that Americans have limited financial knowledge and stability, based on The Corliss Group online magazine report.
The survey was conducted from March 5 to 17 and had 1,068 respondents.
Ninety percent of Americans didn’t know that individuals under the age of 50 can make contributions up to $18,000 a year to a 401(k) plan.
57.9% of those surveyed said they were financially knowledgeable and 38.5% understood the annual percentage rate (APR) on their primary credit card.
In addition, 60% did not have sufficient savings to survive for at least 6 months.
A certified financial planner Eric Meermann, who is based in Scarsdale, N.Y., said that financial literacy is truly a big concern and based on the survey, it is not focused on nearly enough.
55.8% of those surveyed knew what a credit score measures. Meermann says that you should have a focus on getting a good credit score if you wish to be able to accomplish many things that a lot of Americans consider important. Simply because the better credit you have, the better terms and fees you can get on your debt.
Strikingly, only 13.3% of the younger generation knew the maximum amount they could put into a 401(k) plan for the year. This indicates that the gaps in finances and knowledge among Millennials were also surprising.
Stacie Haas, a spokeswoman for Fifth Third Bank says that when she was younger, she would see her parents balancing their checkbook and actually going to the bank to make a payment.
She thinks that you don’t see that anymore, and she also thinks that kids these days don’t grow up witnessing the daily management of money. It just happens around them or inside the cellphone or laptop.
“They do not understand there’s a real management level to this. You don’t just make it and spend it.”
The Fifth Third Bank’s senior vice president of community and economic development, Camino Smith says that younger people are not going to understand financial issues in school if they don’t achieve it in home, because schools usually doesn’t have a lot of financial literacy courses or themes provided within the curriculum.
Fifth Third Bank provides different type of financial literacy program such as the “young bankers club” that has educated thousands of fifth-graders about the benefits of maintaining a budget and other guidelines regarding money.
Another program instructs adults how to pay for a home, as well as retirement and higher education.
Smith added that there many Baby Boomers retiring who are not prepared for retirement, and somehow they’re going to have to be supported or reduce their standard of living. And that’s not good for the economy or the country as a whole.
He also thinks that if individuals make financial literacy more of a priority in the education system, it could truly help the next generation, and generations to come.
Following are few easy tips made by Corliss Online Financial Mag that will help you move forward toward financial security and make your dreams become reality.
Put aside time and energy to talk
The first step to finding common ground with your finances is to take time to talk about money. Define your values and goals together with your family and clarify the difference between needs and wants. Don’t wait for a financial crisis to happen.
It is vital to instruct the children about the value of money and how to use it responsibly.
Make a budget
With your established values, you are now ready to create a budget. There are some tools out there to get you started such as Mint or You Need A Budget (YNAB), but a Microsoft Excel document will probably do the job. Choose something that you are comfortable with and actually work for you. Set a time every month to check in and evaluate your goals as well as your progress. Make adjustments or improvements based on your situation.
Pay your debts
Lots of individuals in debt feel trapped and bogged down, but always remember that even small steps can have a dramatic effect on financial stability. Just pay small amount above the minimum payment each month. As little as $15-$25 more could help you pay off a credit debt five to ten years sooner.
Use a flexible spending account
Assess with your employer. Several companies allow you to take money out of your paycheck pre-tax to pay for expenses such as health care. However, make sure that you only take out what you need.
Save for retirement
Due to compound interest, your money increases dramatically over time. A small contribution now can mean larger returns later.
Prepare for abrupt problems
Consider the things that can have a huge effect on your life later on. Build an emergency fund, set up a life insurance policy, and open a 529 plan — defined by Corliss Online Financial Mag as a tax-advantaged method of saving for future college expenses that is authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code — to begin saving for your children’s education.
Japan signaled that it could join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) after all if certain conditions were met satisfactorily.
This is despite the United States already expressing concerns regarding AIIB and its capability to pass social and environmental standards and China’s already growing diplomatic influence in the region. Still, about 30 nations, including major EU members, participated in this economic project.
Now, even the notable allies of the US — South Korea, Australia and Japan — are reportedly reconsidering.
Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso announced that they are considering joining the AIIB if they can confirm that it has a “credible mechanism for providing loans”. However, other Japanese senior officials remain doubtful if participating in a China-led bank could be truly advantageous.
“We have been asking to ensure debt sustainability taking into account its impact on environment and society. We could (consider) if these issues are guaranteed. We’ll give it careful consideration from diplomatic and economics viewpoints. There could be a chance that we would go inside and discuss. But so far we have not heard any responses,” commented Aso.
AIIB is also seen as a competitor of ADB (Asian Development Bank) which is a regional financial institution based in the Philippines. It is basically dominated by the US and Japan, with its leader customarily coming from the latter’s finance ministry or the Bank of Japan.
The former president of ADB and current BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda cautiously said, “There are huge needs, demands for infrastructure investment in Asia. On the other hand, the World Bank and ADB have been helping countries in Asia to improve infrastructure for the last 50 years.”
Despite being a China-led financial institution that the US is warning against, AIIB got Tokyo concerned of missing out on opportunity for more regional participation, reports Corliss Online Financial Mag.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Treasurer Joe Hockey said participating in AIIB has the potential to benefit local companies and should not adversely affect their relationship with the US. At any rate, he added that a final decision has yet to be made, although Corliss Online Financial Mag got reports that Australia could decide to formally join this week with as much as USD 2.3 billion in investment.
“There is a lot of merit in it, but we want to make sure there are proper governance procedures. That there’s transparency, that no one country is able to control the entity. And because it’s operating in our region, in our neighbourhood, it is important that Australia fully understand and look at participating in this Bank,” said Hockey.
Consumer goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble confirmed last week that they plan to sell off a total of 100 brands, suggesting deeper cuts than originally reported.
P&G confirmed they have finalized deals for 35 brands out of 100 that they are expecting to sell by 2016. The troubled company is also expecting to sell those brands that have collected a total sales in the USD 10 billion mark, contrary to the USD 8 billion it has previously announced.
According to Jon Moeller, P&G’s Chief Financial Officer, the brand divestitures could reduce their annual sales by as much as 14% — a pretty big difference from the original 10% estimate loss in total revenue.
Meanwhile, other officials of the company confirmed that those decisions are already the ‘refined’ version of their original plans and that they are only trying to consolidate their brand portfolio.
Most of the brands shortlisted in its divestiture plans have already been sold on account of their low performance. But Moeller is quick to point out though that the brands they are selling are not necessarily weak ones — they are just underperforming in the eyes of the management.
P&G has previously sold its pet food brands along with a handful of laundry and beauty brands. According to experts, Wella salon and Braun appliances are next on the list. According to Corliss Online Financial Mag, the largest potential divestiture yet is the Duracell batteries to Berkshire Hathaway, owned by billionaire Warren Buffett. The battery maker reportedly generates USD 2.6 billion in revenue per year.
Procter & Gamble’s CEO Alan Lafley said in a conference that they expect selloff to be completed in 5 months. He added, “We have had a lot of interest in the assets we want to dispose.”
Corliss Online Financial Mag has previously reported Lafley announcing last year that P&G plans to concentrate on around 70 brands as a core group of the company.
We’re all taught that it’s good to save some for a rainy day but simply setting a side a portion of our income is not going to cut it nowadays, what with the inflation always rising.
According to a senior investment expert of Corliss Online Financial Mag, most people feel intimidated at first of the idea of investing but it’s not really as daunting as they imagined. Though that’s naturally biased coming from a pro, we’re fortunate enough that he shared a few choiced investment tips meant for first-time investors:
It’s not just for the rich. You don’t need to have thousands of cash first before you can start dabbling in the stock market. All you need is the courage to endure the rise and fall of your savings. Keep in mind that investing is not something that quickly pays off. It requires time and patience so you have to be really committed in the idea that the money you set aside must be left to grow.
Find an adviser. Seeking the advice of someone who’s well-versed in his area of expertise is always a smart move. An investment advisor or a stock broker navigates the ins and outs of investment on a regular basis so partnering with one can help you greatly.
Getting this choice right will make a big difference on what kinds of investments you can access, how much commission fees you need to pay and a ballpark figure of the eventual payout you’ll get. Be wary of brokers who are not willing to go down to your level and teach you the basics as they might take advantage of your ignorance.
Stick with the basics first. Before you engage in volatile stocks that tend to move drastically, it’d be better to start with the staple ones to get a feel of things. It’s not wise to enter the stock market with a get-rich-quick mindset so test your patience with stocks that you can hold on a long-term basis and with minimal risk.
Consumer stocks like those in the medical, apparel or food industry are considered relatively safe because no matter the circumstance, people will always need those commodities. Just don’t expect very high returns soon.
Place your eggs in multiple baskets. Diversification is a common tactic in investing as mentioned by Corliss Online Financial Mag, mainly as a means of insurance against unexpected events. So in case that one of your investments drastically fell, you won’t lose everything.
Start investing now. The world of investing might be a little daunting for a first-timer but you have to start somewhere, right? Armed with a basic knowledge of the whole thing and a reliable broker, you might realize it is worth your time after all and prevent the common pitfalls beginners often make.
The soonest time is now so never mind that you’re still young — in fact, you’re in the best position to invest. Just set aside a fixed amount that you can realistically do without and it can give you returns in the years to come. The earlier you start the more money you can end up with.
Financial Tips Corliss Group online magazine: Put Yourself in Potential Investors’ Shoes with These 4 Tips
When it comes to securing investment, the overwhelming challenge for most entrepreneurs comes from trying to determine how to make a convincing pitch. Fortunately, it does not have to be that difficult.
As an entrepreneur and MBA who was schooled in traditional investment raising, I have always been told that to find investment capital for your business, you needed a comprehensive business plan, detailing (among other things) S.W.O.T. (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), operations and marketing plans, and financial models showing projections, cash flow, return on investment, risk analysis, etc.
These days, I am working on a new startup idea with Startup.SC, a South Carolina startup business incubator that focuses on scalable technology companies. What I have learned over the past few weeks is that although there is no exact formula for successfully developing a pitch, start by asking yourself this simple question:
If you were an investor, what would you want to see in a pitch?
Quite simply, put yourself in the shoes of the investors you are pitching and focus on these things:
1. Customer acquisition, not revenue.
More than revenue projections, investors want to know how you are going to capture and retain customers. In a roundabout way, it is essentially the same thing (both deal with revenue), but while revenue projections can be formulaic and are for the most part completely pulled from the air, what speaks to investors is a clear, effective and executable plan for capturing customers and keeping them.
2. The jockey, not the horse.
Investors bet on jockeys, not horses. What investors want to see is that you are committed and able to fulfill the task of implementing your plan through challenges as well as successes, and that you are the type of person who is going to see it through to the end. Ultimately, a great idea is worthless without great execution. Prove that you are the person to carry out the vision.
3. Flexibility, not recipes.
You may have an idea of how you want to structure your company and your investments, but understand that every investor has different expectations, as do their partners and stakeholders.
4. Remember: Nobody wants to see you fail.
When negotiating with investors, entrepreneurs often get stuck in the wicked mind game of trying to determine who is making out the best. In reality, success depends mutually on two things: your passion and capabilities and your investors’ money.
In the end, everyone loses if you fail, so it is in nobody’s best interest to create a situation that erodes any chance of success.
As I get rolling on a new startup with my partners at Startup.SC, a startup incubator in South Carolina, I am reminded of a few painful mistakes many entrepreneurs, myself included, make when starting a business.
Now, if you are starting a business, you probably have not put too much thought into how you are going to exit. There are, after all, countless considerations to make as you get started, from applying for business licenses, developing working prototypes to setting up your website. If you ever plan to sell your business or bring on investors to grow, how you run your business from the start is just as important.
Fortunately, it is not difficult to get started properly. Simply consider these four tips, often overlooked by most startup entrepreneurs.
1. Prepare your general ledger.
Setting up your accounting books may seem bland and tedious, especially for entrepreneurs without experience. Many rely on off-the-shelf accounting software, which provides general guidelines and templates to get you started. These are fine and completely acceptable for most startups, but to fully understand the financials of your company and, in the future, provide the evidence of the value you have built, you should give your set up careful consideration. Although a little pricey, it would benefit you to hire a professional when getting started.
2. Keep business business.
It is completely acceptable for entrepreneurs to pay for a variety of expenses with company funds, so long as those expenses meet the generally acceptable accounting standards (GAAP) for business expenses. Too many entrepreneurs, however, use company funds for personal use, trying to justify it with very liberal interpretations of GAAP or simply improperly reporting.
Not only could this get you in hot water with the IRS and open you up to a great deal of liability, it will be difficult in the future to separate these expenses when valuing your company. From the onset, it is best to just keep all personal expenses out of the business.
3. Report all revenues.
It is not difficult, and definitely enticing, to skim money from the business at the start, especially if you do most of your business in cash. Again, not only could this ultimately get you in trouble with the IRS, but it undervalues your business in the long run. It is going to be difficult to prove value and growth if you are not reporting real numbers from your business.
4. Keep careful records and receipts.
OK, excluding personal expenses and reporting all of your revenue just means giving more of your hard-earned money to Uncle Sam in terms of taxes. Not necessarily true. If you understand the extent of what you can expense and, more importantly, you keep copious records of your activity (both for audits and due diligence of potential buyers and investors), you can ultimately work down your taxable income without hurting the value of your company.
Grab yourself a good book or, better yet, find yourself a trusted professional advisor to learn how to best run your business this way.
I was part of a business team that looked at investing in businesses a number of years ago. It was not uncommon to meet an entrepreneur of a small business whose only proof of success and value was a shoebox full of cash. A few would emphasize that the company was paying for personal utilities, auto expenses and even groceries and that we should consider these expenses as part of the value.
The problem was that they often could not prove these claims satisfactorily because they had not accounted for them properly. In the end, it hurt the valuation of their company and gave us tremendous leverage during the negotiations.
Most entrepreneurs are not thinking about an exit when they are in the startup stages of a business. If you ever have a goal to divest or grow through investment, how you run your business before you start is just as important as after.
Is there anything that big government does well? I mean sure, our military is really pretty practiced at breaking things and shooting people; which (I guess) explains why they are being sent to fight Ebola. (If that logic escapes you, don’t worry… I think a lot of us feel that way.) And yeah, the IRS is pretty good at separating me from my hard-earned money; but, then again, so is Banana Republic. At least Banana Republic has the good taste to compete for my cash.
This basic question (“What does big government do well”) seems to confound liberals. We on the right have been asking it for decades… And we still haven’t been able to solicit a single honest answer from defenders of of the state. In fact, satire, sarcasm, and a little incredulity, is the general response from our esteemed colleagues on the other side of the ideological divide. I did, however, receive a list of “ten things government does well” from someone over the weekend. Of course, I couldn’t help but share it (and a few observations of my own) with the rest of the world:
Things that Government does well
(According to someone who I assume is a card-carrying member of Obama & Company):
1. Protecting our freedom
So that little dust-up in the 1770s was because government was just protecting our freedoms too vigorously?
2. Giving away land to common people
Um… What property are we talking about here? Because as far as I know, the government isn’t actually a “producer” of land – which tells me that the land it gives away to “common people” was first confiscated from someone else… Sure, government has turned “redistribution” into an art form, but I don’t think the forcible confiscation and redistribution of land coexists real well with “number one” on this list.
3. Educating everyone
The national graduation rate is a mere 75 percent; and only half of U.S. adults can name all three branches of government… Watch a few “fan interviews” of the Jersey Shore, and then keep a straight face while telling me that government has done a great job educating our youth.
4. Helping us retiring with dignity
Because nothing is more dignified than depending on a paternalistic government Ponzi-scheme for financial security in your golden years, right?
5. Improving public health
Ebola. (And on the off-chance that you’re still not skeptical, here’s another one-word answer: Healthcare.gov.)
6. Building our transportation network
Federal data shows there are roughly 63,000 “structurally deficient” bridges in the US. Of course, this doesn’t even skim the surface of roadways that are deteriorating on a daily basis. Heck, on my way to the convenience store, I routinely have to dodge a pothole that has the capability of swallowing my Jeep Rubicon. And all of this deterioration is despite the massive amount of time and energy our state, local, and federal governments have dedicated to “stimulating” the economy with a little rush-hour timed construction work. (I actually have a running theory that my home state has no storage unit for traffic cones… After all, that’s the only logical reason for blocking off a four mile stretch of a major interstate so crews can repaint 25 foot of the HOV merging lane.)
7. Investing in communications
Sure, the government owns the radio frequencies… Too bad they haven’t been able to develop a dependable way to alert President Obama to impending scandals before the media breaks a story.
8. Building our energy supply
Because nothing says “efficient use of taxpayer funds” quite like a bankrupt green-energy company in California.
9. Inventing the future (NASA)
Wait… “Inventing” or “investing”? Because last time I checked, “Muslim outreach” wouldn’t necessarily fall under either one of those categories. (Well… Unless our defense against ISIS is far worse than even conservatives fear.)
10. Defeating totalitarianism
Right. So government is super effective at killing the effects of overbearing government. This makes total sense.
Social media and financial advice aren’t such an easy match after all.
Sure, the initial attraction is obvious. With one stroke, advisers can woo clients with regular investment tips on Facebook and Twitter, building an audience and drumming up business. Then, after establishing a rapport with their followers, they can follow up with one-on-one video conferencing to clients on Skype or FaceTime without leaving their screens.
But back up a minute.
Old-fashioned, face-to-face communication is still key, advisers say, even for those who use social media extensively. In-person meetings are a must to glean nuances about risk tolerance and financial needs that clients may not even realize about themselves, let alone be able to communicate. Worse, pat advice on Facebook and Twitter can run the risk of looking like a hot tip and other worthless advice littering some investment websites.
So, how best to proceed on social media? Here are some things to consider:
1. Set the right tone
Being on social media is about “being where the people are. It’s about being engaged, sincere, genuine and contributing something of value. And over time, you build relationships,” said Will Britton, a financial adviser in Kingston.
For him, social media is a place to begin a conversation. For instance, he hopes to open dialogues with his regular roundup of stories from financial media, acting as a mini news service for people following him on Twitter. By linking to these stories and affixing his Twitter tag, he’s effectively handing out electronic business cards to the world.
“My presence [on social media] is enough for people to know what I do professionally. There’s certainly some professional content, whether it’s sharing links to worthwhile articles or videos or stuff that I come across.”
It’s a faux pas, though, to look like someone selling something, he said.
“I try to stay away from overt marketing, A) because we get into compliance issues from an industry point of view, and B) I just don’t think that that’s what the people on those platforms want anyway. They’re looking for connections and conversations and engagement. They’re not looking for spam and ads and ‘Come buy this from me,’” he said.
2. Differentiate between public and private
Investment professionals need to draw a clear line between public and private, a line that’s not always clear in social media, nor in real life.
Take this easy scenario: a conversation at a children’s hockey game. In the stands, parents inevitably get to talking. Often the topic will turn to money and, sooner or later, an investment pro such as Mr. Britton will have to mention that he’s a financial adviser.
That’s when another parent may get serious and ask a direct question about the family’s finances. That’s when the informal conversation needs to stop and continue in private. It’s best to think of social media as a giant referral service for investment advisers, he said.
“I think a lot of the time, people definitely aren’t going to the Yellow Pages [to find advisers], and I don’t even know if they’re going to Google any more,” he said. “They are crowdsourcing that information. They’re going to their community, wherever it is, whether it’s online or off, and saying, ‘Hey, does anyone know a good financial planner?’”
3. Social media still isn’t seen as a replacement for traditional financial news sources
There’s skepticism surrounding social media as an information source in the investment community.
Institutional investors remain particularly wary, according to a global poll by communications network AMO conducted in January this year. Their survey of 105 institutional investors in 12 countries found that 85 per cent feel that social media sites are generally not reliable for financial news.
Yet, at the same time, they also indicate a future for it, with 82 per cent saying that social media is growing in importance in financial communications. Thirty-nine per cent of these are prone to looking at investment forums for work regularly or occasionally, and 28 per cent consult them under exceptional circumstances. LinkedIn was the most popular of the social media sites, with 59 per cent consulting it at some point, although a large 41-per-cent segment reported never using it professionally. About 46 per cent reported ever consulting Twitter professionally.
Similarly for retail investors, an online survey in August of 2013 for BMO InvestorLine found that social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, were still slow to be seen as reliable investment-news vehicles. Only a third of the 1,020 Canadian investors surveyed said they use social media for investment insights.
In comparison, 69 per cent of those investors surveyed said they found TV current events and business news trustworthy, and 55 per cent said the same for newspapers and magazines. So linking to more traditional news sources may still be a good habit for advisers online, rather than linking to blogs, forums or other social media.
All of this suggests that social media continues to make inroads, but it still has a way to go.
4. Organize online advising more effectively
Victor Godinho, a financial planner in Toronto and still in his early twenties, sees social media as perfectly suited to the 20- to 40-year-old crowd he caters to. Every Friday, he posts a financial tip on his social media sites, from Instagram and Facebook to Twitter and Pinterest. He has a client in Ottawa with whom he conferences on Skype.
Yet he adds that Skype and social media require a more effective use of time, rather than just chatting for an hour in his office. “You need to keep their attention [online], or you need to make sure they’re on the same page as you, considering you’re in two different locations.”
It’s a supplement to in-person meetings. “Every year when we do our annual review, we’ll meet in person,” he said, and “when you’re in-person, you’re inclined to talk more than just business.”
But for a video conference, advisers need to send clients documents ahead of time. Time onscreen needs to be managed more efficiently, and the meeting needs to move along at a faster speed. More pre-planning is required to make the meeting more effective. It requires a different communication skill, with a focus on not wasting time.
“If you can make that easier on your client, that’s the best thing you can do,” Mr. Godinho said.