In Dollars & Sense: Personal Finance, students gain strategies which significantly improve their skills in money management and saving. Throughout the course emphasis is placed on eight key elements of financial planning: obtaining, planning, saving, borrowing, spending, managing risk, investing and retirement and estate planning. With the number of personal bankruptcies having exceeded one million a year, and many students leaving college with enormously high credit card balances, this course meets a critical need in today’s society.
The 26 lessons explore all forms of credit management, types of investments, a variety of estate-planning strategies, wills, a broad range of insurance options, retirement planning, health care, and even career strategies. Each lesson includes a number of interactive games and practice activities that engage students and reinforce learning and the lesson ends with a quiz.
Lesson Titles and Descriptions
1. Your Personal Financial Plan
Financial planner Victoria Collins emphasizes the importance of setting realistic financial goals. Six steps of financial planning are presented: determining current needs, developing goals, identifying alternatives, evaluating alternatives, creating and implementing a plan, and reevaluating and revising. Syndicated columnist Kathy Kristof emphasizes the importance of flexibility. Understanding the time value of money is the last general topic. Dara Duguay of the Jump$tart Coalition reiterates why starting a savings plan early in life is so important. Finally, financial planner and PBS television personality Jonathan Pond describes which components of a financial plan should be emphasized at various stages of life.
2. Basic Economics Principles
The father and son discuss the disadvantages of credit-card overuse. The father explains how interest rates can also move according to the law of supply and demand. Jeanne Hogarth, senior analyst with the Federal Reserve Board, explains the difference between the Federal Reserve Bank and the Federal Reserve Board. The bank implements financial instruments and services, and the board makes economic policy. The relationship of interest rates—the discount rate, the prime rate, and consumer and business loan rates—is graphically illustrated. The relationship between short-term T-bill rates and long-term Treasury bond rates is also discussed. Hogarth also explains why interest rates affect everyone, every day. The father and son discuss the pros and cons of obtaining a low-interest consolidation loan to refinance the son’s credit card debts.
3. Personal Career Strategies
Kirwan Rockefeller, president of Paradigm Partners, talks about voluntary and involuntary career changes. He discusses how to evaluate when to change careers, describes some practical considerations, and advises which industries will offer the best opportunities for career development. Finally, Susan Johnson, president of Healthy Gourmet, and Charlie Bunten, general manager with Lucent Technologies, discuss the problems they encountered after embarking on new career paths. Johnson started a successful business of her own after she had raised a family. Although Bunten has been with the same firm his entire professional life, he has changed career directions many times within a company that has also transformed itself to keep up with changing technologies.
4. Money Management Strategies
The program introduces the two main types of financial statements: the balance sheet and the cash flow statement. The balance sheet records total assets and total liabilities; the cash flow statement records ongoing income and expenses. From the cash flow statement, a budget can be developed. Financial planner Victoria Collins discusses fixed and variable expenses. She emphasizes being as honest as possible about expense items that may be difficult to calculate accurately. Sample budgets of a two income family and a young, single man are presented. Robert Moskowitz demonstrates how to use a computer spreadsheet program to create a budget. He also compares the features of various financial software programs. Finally, a situation arises where a dent in the car may create havoc with the young couple’s budget, leading to a discussion of the need for flexibility and contingency plans.
5. Planning Your Tax Strategy
Judith Golden with the Internal Revenue Service explains why it is so important to keep accurate tax records and discusses some of the most frequent errors made when filing taxes. Robert Moskowitz demonstrates some tax-preparation software and points out some of its advantages. Law professor Debra Cohen Whelan offers some historical background on taxation in the United States and discusses tax changes endorsed by politicians and advocacy groups, including a national sales tax on consumption, a value-added tax on the cost of producing goods, and a flat tax. Finally, Jonathan Pond offers a tip on how to evaluate the financial impact of property taxes.
6. Banking Services of Financial Institutions
and how to do it.
In the next scene, a young woman learns the importance of maintaining a personal relationship with her financial institution. Carmen Luna with Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp. describes the difference between a savings account and a checking account. Certificates of deposit offer higher interest rates but less liquidity. Money-market accounts usually offer higher rates than checking accounts but may have various restrictions. Mutual funds also may offer higher rates, but investors should be aware that such accounts might not be insured through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). Robert Moskowitz explains the advantages and potential problems with online banking. Jeanne Hogarth with the Federal Reserve Board explains the purpose and functions of the nation’s primary banking organization: to maintain monetary policy, supervise and regulate banks, maintain economic stability, and provide financial services. She also describes some of the laws enforced by the Federal Reserve Board.
7. Introduction to Consumer Credit
Next, the lesson introduces some people applying for bank loans. One couple needs a loan for a new roof, and a young man wants to apply for a business loan. The loan officers explain the five Cs of credit: character, capacity, capital, collateral, and conditions. Maxine Sweet of Experian describes the contents of a credit report and why it is important to keep the report clean. She also describes some of the consequences of bad credit. Mortgage loan officer Allycyn Bennett explains the effects of declaring bankruptcy. She also points out that demonstrating an ability to repay credit debt is essential to establishing a credit rating.
8. Choosing Sources of Consumer Credit
Credit counselor Eric Imperial discusses important topics related to debt consolidation, including using home equity to refinance high interest loans. Financial planner Ann Egan explains the Rule of 78s, also called the sum of-the-digits rule. She points out that consumers who understand this interest-rate calculation will realize it may not be in their best interest to extend the terms of most loans or to borrow more than their equity. Finally, financial adviser Sharon K. Pinkerton discusses how credit insurance might be helpful in certain situations. Credit life insurance and credit property insurance on some purchases may be a good idea, but consumers should weigh the costs with the benefits.
9. Credit Problems
Credit counselor Joanne Budde explains the three goals of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service: to educate consumers, provide confidential counseling, and develop personalized debt-management plans. Author Deborah McNaughton explains the importance of formulating a plan. Gerri Detweiler of Debt Counselors of America states that one of the reasons there are so many people with credit problems is that credit is so easily available. Dara Duguay of the Jump$tart Coalition describes some of stress-related problems that result from the over extension of credit. Financial adviser David C. Jones explains that credit counseling may be a better alternative to bankruptcy. Jonathan Pond describes some advantages and disadvantages of a debt-consolidation loan. Maxine Sweet of Experian states that missed payments can stay on a credit report for up to seven years and bankruptcies for up to 10 years. She also advises consumers to beware of certain credit-repair scams. Finally, financial adviser Dianne Wilkman explains how some credit counselors can negotiate with lenders to work out a repayment plan.
10. Legal Aspects of Protecting Your Wealth
An example of a consumer-protection law is the “lemon law,” which protects new car purchasers from chronically problematic automobiles. Consumers are protected from errors on their credit reports through the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Fair Credit Billing Act protects consumers from having to pay for faulty merchandise. Also, consumers’ rights are upheld by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Violet P. Woodhouse, an attorney and family law specialist, and John Ellingson describe the effects of joint credit and prenuptial agreements, including how one’s debt before marriage may affect the new spouse’s credit rating, too. Finally, the video introduces a young couple who face declaring bankruptcy as their only solution to credit problems. Attorney Tim McCandless explains why the couple’s situation required a bankruptcy filing.
11. Consumer Purchasing Strategies
Consumer affairs specialist Pastor Herrera offers the family advice on their major purchasing decision. A price analysis of a big-ticket item, such as a computer, can be accomplished using a matrix. Herrera explains the importance of negotiating the right price. He also discusses the cost variables of buying on credit. A final factor in any purchase decision is the warranty, or warranty options. Smart shopping is an ongoing activity that involves continual reevaluation. The types of warranties are expressed, implied, full, and limited. Consumers can usually have their complaints handled at the place of purchase, but there are many other resources if you are not satisfied with the resolution. Robert Moskowitz describes how the Internet has transformed consumers’shopping habits and identifies some common marketing scams being offered online.
12. Transportation Costs
Students are encouraged to evaluate the public transportation options where they live. For students whoneed to purchase a vehicle, the advantages of buying vs. leasing and the pros and cons of various financing options are discussed. Many potential problems involved with buying a used car are explored, as well as consumer protection laws. Charlie Vogelheim with Kelley Blue Book discusses the fixed and variable costs connected with operating and maintaining a car. Students also learn about many automobile rating services, especially those available online. Finally, the importance of proper mechanical maintenance is discussed.
13. The Finances of Housing
want and how those ideal requirements can be achieved within their financial limitations. Second, save and invest for the down payment and closing costs. Third, budget for the inevitable monthly expenses facing new homeowners: the mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, and other expenses. For most people, buying a home is the most expensive, and one of the most complex, activities they will ever undertake. The program explores important financial aspects of the home-buying process. Mortgage loan officer Allycyn Bennett explains what a mortgage is, describes various sources for obtaining a home loan, and compares different types of home loans. Next, Jonathan Pond offers a tip about purchasing real estate during the winter holidays, a seasonally soft market. Finally, real estate broker Jeannine Schrantz discusses some of the key aspects of the closing process, when the real estate sale is finalized.
Home ownership is usually much more than a financial decision. Most first-time home buyers will not be able to buy their ultimate dream house right away. Nevertheless, by compromising when they first get into the real estate market, they can begin building up equity that can be used to leverage up to a home closer to their ideal. The process of eventually acquiring that ideal home is often more challenging and develops more slowly than most people would like. Home buyers will need to stay focused on their long term financial plan in order to attain their dream home.
14. Personal Risk and Insurance
The father and son discuss how to go about getting the insurance they need. The father advises the son that he doesn’t need to get everything at once but does need to develop a plan. Cristina Fuentes with American Express offers some advice on how to decide which assets should be protected with insurance coverage. She also explains some of the variables that affect insurance premiums. Jonathan Pond offers the following tips to save money on your insurance: shop around, review your existing coverage, and raise your policy deductibles.
15. Home, Auto & Business Insurance
Kenneth Adams describes what factors affect homeowner’s insurance rates. He also explains some of the other variables with this type of insurance. The family from the opening scenario learns about the difference between homeowner’s and home business insurance. Insurance broker Jim Armitage explains why individuals who operate home-based businesses need to have separate insurance coverage for products used for that business. Professional liability insurance and disability insurance are important considerations for home-based business operations. Insurance is necessary for keeping a financial plan on track in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
16. Health and Disability Insurance
Insurance counselor Julie Schoen comments on why so many people lack medical insurance. She also explains key terms and describes patients’ rights, including quality of care and portability. Insurance broker Rudy Suarez explains that the biggest risk covered by disability insurance is loss of income from employment. He also explains what to look for when selecting a disability insurance policy. Next, students meet two families personally affected by situations that could have been helped by better insurance coverage: Tim Dunn, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and Rochelle McReynolds, whose elderly mother requires long-term medical care. Finally, journalist Jane Glenn Haas and Julie Schoen discuss how long-term-care insurance policies must be tailored to each individual’s situation.
17. Life Insurance
To determine how much life insurance you need, it is important to determine how much income your dependents will need for a sufficient period of time. The couple from the opening scene meets with an insurance agent to evaluate their situation. They discuss the cost to replace their lost income, their present debts, their future costs, and their current coverage and investments. William P. Corry with First Financial Resources talks about the importance of the independent rating services for insurance companies. He also explains the difference between term insurance and a cash-value policy. Robert Moskowitz demonstrates some helpful online sites, including Insurance Inlinea. Retirement planning specialist Judy Davis explains the difference between life insurance and an annuity. Finally, the couple discusses the various insurance proposals they received.
18. Fundamentals of Investing
Columnist Liz Pulliam explains how to determine if you could benefit from the services of a financial planner. She describes what these planners do, how they are compensated for their services, and how their performance and ethics can be evaluated through background checks available from state and national agencies. Financial journalists Paul B. Farrell, Sue Herera, and Kristof describe some of the sources of information available on the Internet. Tom and David Gardner of The Motley Fool explain why they believe traditional brokerage firms are evolving from order-execution houses to information sources. Investment advisers KathleenBrown, Barbara Bowles, and Percy Bolton address some of the special issues affecting women and minorities and how consideration of these issues should change their investment strategies.
19. Investing in Stocks
A stock market, or securities exchange, is a location where certificates, representing ownership of a company, can be exchanged from a seller to a buyer. Arthur Levitt, Jr., the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, describes the role of the SEC in serving as a watchdog over securities markets. Mary Schapiro, president of National Association of Securities Dealers Regulation, Inc., describes some of the NASD’s powers to regulate the largest electronic exchange market in the world. Charles Schwab, founder and chairman of Charles Schwab & Company, Inc., discusses the role of the broker and brokerage firms in the investment process. Finally, Jonathan Pond describes some defensive strategies to use when investing, including stop-loss orders, option strategies, diversification, and picking undervalued stocks.
20. Investing in Bonds
Investment adviser Mark Miller explains some of the methods of evaluating bond investments and defines the terms debentures, mortgage bonds, subordinated debentures, and junk bonds. Investment advisor William Gross explains why bond values drop when interest rates go up, and Alice Lowenstein clarifies the inverse relationship between bond prices and interest rates. Finally, Robert Moskowitz demonstrates some Internet sites offering valuable information on bonds.
21. Investing in Mutual Funds
Tom and David Gardner of The Motley Fool point out that investing in a mutual fund does not take as much time and effort as does personal research. Syndicated columnist Russ Wiles discusses how to read a mutual fund prospectus. He also offers some practical advice on selecting a fund. Robert Moskowitz provides information on various Internet sites covering mutual funds. Finally, an investment adviser tries to soothe the concerns of the couple when their mutual fund drops. He also points out the tax advantage for mutual fund investors who wait to purchase shares after a fund’s dividends have been distributed.
22. Real Estate and Other Investment Alternatives
Financial adviser Ralph L. Block explains two key advantages of REITs: diversification and professional management. He also notes that 95 percent of all net income from a REIT must be distributed to the shareholders. Reporter Jennifer Davis then interviews Scott Newnan, who describes some of the characteristics and benefits of investing in REITs. Next, individuals and marketing professionals in the area of collectibles note that the value of most collectibles is extremely difficult to predict. Using collections as an investment vehicle requires you to “do your homework.”
23. Retirement Planning
Paine Webber consultant Bambi Holzer explains the benefits of tax-deferred savings plans and the types of corporate retirement plans. She also describes SEP-IRAs, some of the rules regarding distributions from various plans, and plan portability. Financial planner Eric Bruck describes individual retirement accounts, including traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, Education IRAs, and rollover IRAs. At the end of the program, the father and son from the opening scenario discuss the various plans the son has made to secure his retirement income.
24. Estate Planning
The attorney explains that the best way to preserve Linda and Charlie’s estate is to put it into a trust. In their case, they would save $116,000 in estate taxes by putting most of their estate in two trusts. Violet Woodhouse describes some other strategies for managing an estate. She explains the difference between holding title to assets as joint tenants or as community property. Law professor Debra Cohen Whelan explains the difference between an inter vivos, or living, trust and a testamentary trust, which becomes effective at the death. She also explains letters of last instruction and living will.
25. Deception in the Marketplace
One of the most common devices used by scam artists is the telephone. Some of scam artists’ most common phone techniques: telling you that you have won a prize (even though you haven’t entered a contest), pressuring you to act now, asking you for money to pay for the prize, asking for your credit card number, or offering to send a courier to pick up a check. Mail fraud and Internet scams are also common. Robert Moskowitz describes some of the common scams being posted on Internet sites and identifies sites where you can report scam artists. Financial planning attorney Dennis Murphy presents some information on your recourse options if you have been victimized. Demand your money back, go to the police, and avoid services that offer to get your money back—which are often scams themselves. The best strategy is not to get taken in the first place
26. Evaluating Your Commitment to Your Financial Goals
Author Kathleen Gurney discusses the nine money personalities: Safety Players, Entrepreneurs, Optimists, Hunters, Achievers, Producers, High Rollers, Perfectionists, and Money Masters. She notes that the two types most likely to be good money managers are the Achievers and the Money Masters because both are detail-oriented and good planners. Jonathan Pond explains a seven-day regimen for developing and implementing your financial plan. Television spokeswoman Stephanie Edwards and her husband Murray talk candidly about how they have managed to work through some problems resulting from a major financial setback. Finally, financial planner Victoria Collins discusses some of the common excuses that people use to explain their failure to stick to a financial plan. The importance of putting your plan in writing is reiterated.
National Academic Advisory Team
Carlene Creviston, Ball State University
Judy Davis, Retirement Plan Specialist, Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company
Rod Davis, Investment Broker/Instructional Designer
Dara Duguay, Executive Director, Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy
Ann Egan, CFP, Associated Financial Planners
Jim Evans, CFP, Johnson County Community College
Vickie Hampton, Ph.D., CFP, University of Texas
Judy McCartney, President, Orange County Federal Credit Union
Dennis M. Murphy, CPA, CIRA, California State University, Los Angeles
Ted Ondracek, Coastline Community College
Liz Pulliam, CFP, Syndicated Financial Columnist
Jeannine Schrantz, Monarch Beach Realty
Chris Alexander, President, Synergy Executive Education
Elizabeth Allen, Attorney-Mediator, Coast to Coast Mediation Center
Jim Armitage, Independent Broker/Agent
Rosella Bannister, Director, National Institute for Consumer Education
Louis Barajas, CFP, Barajas & Torres, Inc.
Allycyn Bennett, Loan Manager, First Capital Mortgage
Phil Blank, Retired Educator, KOCE-TV
Ralph Block, Investment Advisor, Bay Isle Financial Corporation
John Bogle, Chairman, The Vanguard Group
Percy Bolton, Founder & Managing Associate, Percy E. Bolton Associates, Inc.
Barbara Bowles, President, The Kenwood Group
Sherri Brewer, Vice President, Orange County Federal Credit Union
Wendy Brough, Dep. D.A., Consumer Protection, Orange County District Attorney
Kathleen Brown, Executive Vice President, Bank of America
Eric Bruck, Bruck & Caine Advisory
Joanne Budde, President/Executive Director, Consumer Credit Counseling Service
Charles Bunten, General Manager, Lucent Technologies
David Cavano, Manager/Automotive Purchasing, Auto Club of Southern California
Ann Chadwick, Executive Director, American Assoc. of Family & Consumer Sciences
Debra Cohen Whelan, Associate Professor of Law, Whittler Law School
Victoria Collins, Exec. Vice President, Keller, Collins, Hakopian & Leisure
Susan Conjurski, Vice President, Controller, Arrowhead Central Credit Union
Bill Corry, Jr., Principal, First Financial Resources
Judy Davis, Retirement Plan Specialist, VALIC
Rod Davis, Investment Executive, PaineWebber Inc.
Jim Demeo, Product Manager, Auto Club of Southern California
Gerri Detweiler, Education Advisor, Debt Counselors of America
James Doti, President, Professor Economics, Chapman University
Dara Duguay, Executive Director, Jump $tart Coalition for Personal Finance Literacy
Stephanie Edwards, Radio/TV Commentator
Ann Egan, Certified Financial Planner, Associated Financial Planners
Herschel Elkins, Head, Consumer Law Section, California Attorney General’s Office
John Ellingson, Attorney, Howser & Brown
Leslie Etheridge, Director, Human Resources, Human Resource Answers
Eric Farber, Producer/Business Owner
Paul Farrell, Writer and Editor, CBS.MarketWatch.Com
Rick Fenelli, Attorney
Jim Frannea, President, Consumer Credit Counseling Services
Cristina Fuentes, Financial Advisor, American Express Financial Advisors Inc.
David Gardner, Co-Founder, The Motley Fool
Thomas Gardner, Co-Founder, The Motley Fool
John Garner, President, Garner Consulting
Jane Glenn Haas, Writer, Orange County Register
Judith Golden, Public Affairs Officer, IRS Public Affairs
Jan Goren CPA, LLP, Green, Goren & Marcus
William Gross, Founder/Managing Director, Pacific Investment Management Company
Kathleen Gurney, Financial Psychologist, Financial Psychology Corporation
Mark Victor Hansen, Author
Brigid Haragan, Director, Home Buyer Education Fannie Mae
Judy Hay, Career Counselor
Sue Herera, Anchor, CNBC Financial
Pastor Herrera, Director, LA County Department Consumer Affairs
Jeanne Hogarth, Senior Analyst, Consumer & Community Affairs Federal Reserve Bank
Bambi Holzer, Sr. Vice President, PaineWebber
Eric Imperial, Counselor, Consumer Credit Counseling Services-Riverside
Susan Johnson, President, Healthy Gourmet
David C. Jones, President & CEO, Genus Credit Management
John Joyce, Manager, College Scholarship
Dave Kohler, Collector
Kathy Kristof, Syndicated Columnist, Los Angeles Times
Arthur Levitt, Jr., Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission
Alice Lowenstein, Morningstar
Michael Lugo, Registered Health Underwriter, Benefit Management Specialists
Carmen Luna, Vice President, Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corporation
Timothy McCandless, Attorney
Deborah McNaughton, Author
Rochelle McReynolds, Deputy Director, San Diego Museum of Art
Mark Miller, Portfolio Manager, Kayne Anderson Investment Management
Donald Mohr, Mediator and Counselor, Coast to Coast Mediation Center
Robert Moskowitz, Author
Margie Mullen, Owner, Mullen Advisory
Dennis Murphy, CPA
Lori Musick, Educational Coordinator, KOCE-TV
Amanda O’Connor, Marketing Director, Kaiser Permanente
Connie Ohnos, Real Estate Broker, Coldwell Banker
Gayle Pereira, Regional Vice President, Oppenheimer Funds
Don Phillips, President, Morningstar, Inc.
Sharon Pinkerton, Vice President, Insurance Manager, Arrowhead Financial Group, Inc.
Jonathan Pond, President, Financial Planning Information
Liz Pulliam, Personal Finance Writer, Los Angeles Times
Anil Puri, Department of Economics, California State University, Fullerton
Alan Puzame, Senior Vice President, Blue Shield of California
Lucy Rangel, Sr. Paralegal/Law Clerk, Law Offices of Timothy McCandless
Tom Rice, Department Health Services, University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health
Kirwan Rockefeller, Principal, Paradigm Partners
Dallas Salisbury, Chairman of the Board American Savings Education Council
Mark Savalle, Agent, New York Life Insurance
Mary Schapiro, President, NASD Regulation, Inc.
Julie Schoen, Legal Counsel, Health Insurance Counseling Advocacy Program
Jeannine Schrantz, Broker, Monarch Beach Realty
Charles Schwab, CEO, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
David Stewart, University of Southern California
Rudy Suarez, Agent/Broker, Suarez Insurance Services
Maxine Sweet, Vice President of Consumer Education, Experian
Linda Sybrandt, Partner, Deloitte & Touche
Laura Tarbox, President, Tarbox Equity
Don Thompson, Independent Real Estate Investor
Charlie Vogelheim, Editor, Kelley Blue Book
Russ Wiles, Syndicated Columnist, The Arizona Republic
Dianne Wilkman, President/CEO, Money Management International
Brent Wood, General Partner, BC & Associates
Violet Woodhouse, Attorney, Certified Financial Planner
Glenn D. Woody, Certified Financial Planner
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