Sleuthing The
Many Kinds Of Insurance

When you think about it, Insurance and Risk Management are really the same thing. Adults who own homes have all kinds of insurances including protecting their home and belongings. But when first starting out in the working world, or even before when attending college, insurance is also a big must have – and, like popsicles, Insurance comes in lots of different flavors.

If you’re renting an apartment, rental insurance is good thing to help protect your belongings in case of a fire, bad weather or even theft. That’s taking your first step with Risk Management. Also health insurance should be on your list. We all know that at age 22, health insurance is the furthest expense to consider. But you should know that a broken arm or a couple of nights at a hospital could put you in serious debt.

So by having insurance that covers your health, your property and even your car is the perfect definition of Risk Management.

April is National Financial Literacy Month, Detective Frank Money’s favorite month! To celebrate the importance of being financially literate, Detective Money is going to post financial literacy tips every day.

It’s Financial Literacy Month

April is National Financial Literacy Month, Detective Frank Money’s favorite month! Let’s all celebrate the importance of being financially literate!

I’ve seen some pretty hard cases in my time – but this one was a peach. A big juicy peach, with a hard pit of stone! And I like peaches. In fact, I like all kinds of fruit. But that’s not what I’m really here to talk about – I’m really here to talk about money.

When I’ve asked them, the vast majority of adults tell me that they were never taught the things they needed to know about money when they were in school, and, they wished that they had the knowledge to be financially literate at a young age,”

Being financially literate means examining your attitudes about money. It just takes a little detective work, but it’s never too late to do a financial literacy ‘check-up’.

But this isn’t a frame-up – you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to ask understand the correct answers on a few financial literacy questions:

  1. Do you make informed financial decisions and understand the difference between wants and needs?
  2. Have you meet your credit obligations on time?
  3. Do you track your expenses with a budget?
  4. Do you plan for the future through savings?
  5. Have you establish money goals?

Oh, did I mention that April is National Financial Literacy Month, Detective Frank Money’s favorite month? 

Education ROI

OK Frank Money here, your very effective money detective – Listen up! We need to know the R-O-I of that higher education your pursuing?

What’s ROI you ask? That’s RETURN ON INVESTMENT.

Whether it be college, trade or vocational schools you INVEST your time as well as money to get an education. The end result is a career you hopefully will love with yearly earnings being the RETURN.

It’s important to ask yourself – what is the payoff for all your blood, sweat and tears…and cost. It’s time to do the math.

QUESTION 1 – What is the cost of your higher education.

QUESTION 2 – What is the average starting salary of a job in your area of study?

The blog fivethirtyeight.com has a great chart of understanding what the average median earning is for your degree and future job.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-economic-guide-to-picking-a-college-major/

QUESTION 3 – Now look the first two questions – how many years will you have to work to equal the cost of higher education. In other words, how many years of working will it take you to break even in paying back that cost of education.

That’s your ROI.

Life is about pursuing interests that you love, but it’s equally important to consider the path you take and whether the return will be worth it.

The Magic of Compounded Interest

The prettiest two words you ever want to hear when investing are: Compounded Interest. A perfect case comes from the one and only Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin decided to leave about $4,550 at the time of his death each to his native hometown of Boston and adopted hometown of Philadelphia on the condition that it gather interest for 200 years. Franklin believed 200 years was the maximum length of time any person should be able to control assets from beyond the grave.

It could have theoretically reached well over $78,000,000 if the two cities had never spent any and had managed it well.

The point of Franklin’s experiment was trying to illustrate the tremendous power of compound interest for future generations. The longer you keep your money invested, the more amazing the power of compound interest. So start saving today, and put your money to work for you! You’ll have a case with a happy ending

Want to read more about Franklin’s amazing gift? Here’s a NYTimes article: http://www.nytimes.com/1990/04/21/us/from-ben-franklin-a-gift-that-s-worth-two-fights.html

Savings Is Good For You!

I’m Frank Money, and I wanna help you investigate everything about money! For example, let’s investigate savings. It doesn’t take much detective work to understand that savings is good for you!

And here’s the good news for millennials – you are saving at a rate greater than any generation before you. Fidelity Investments found that 20 somethings are saving on average 7.5% of their income compared to 5.8% in 2013.

We’ve talked about retirement savings, and how important it is to start as soon as you can, along with the benefits of deferring taxes and saving on how much income tax you pay when you invest in a 401k, IRA, etc.

But what about non-retirement savings?

One strategy to employ is to set a goal of savings out of each pay check, and to make that ‘payment’ to you savings account, just like you pay your rent, phone and electric bill. Over time, you grow your savings account and let your money work for you.

What’s the amount you should save? well, it varies from person to person, but a good rule of thumb is to save 10-15% of your gross income (the amount you make BEFORE taxes are deducted) and use that for both your retirement accounts as well as non-retirement accounts.

It takes discipline, but getting used to a regular savings plan is something all millennials need to consider. It doesn’t take much detective work to understand  – SAVINGS IS GOOD FOR YOU!

Understand Paycheck Deductions

Getting your first paycheck is an exciting thing. Then you look at the actual amount of the check and you think there must have been a mistake! That’s because they take out taxes and employee benefits from you pay. You should take the time to understand what they deduct from your paycheck, and why. 

High school students usually first become aware that the money you make per hour, multiplied times the hours they worked each week, did not add up to the amount they actually received in their check for the pay period. Gross pay is the amount you are paid, before taxes are taken out, Net pay is the actual amount of the check, with all of the taxes and benefits deducted.

Here are the different items they deduct from an average paycheck:

Federal Tax – also known as income tax. it can range from 15 to 39.6% of the total. The more you make, the more you pay. Here’s a basic table of income tax rates for 2016:

State Tax – this is the State Income tax paid depending on which state you live in. Currently seven states have no state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

FICA – This is the social security tax. You pay 6.2% of your income to FICA. In addition, your employer pays and additional 6.2% for you. It provides you with a guaranteed retirement benefit when you are in your 60’s.

MEDI – This is for Medicare. You pay 1.45% of your income to Medicare. Your employer also pays an additional 1.45% for you.  It provides you with health care benefits when you are in your 60’s.

OTHER – Other items that can be deducted from your paycheck are for Life Insurance, Health Insurance, Retirement Plans, Flexible Spending Account Deduction (which is a health savings plan) and Employee Stock Plans. There may be other items deducted as well which are usually part of an employee benefits plan.

BTW, besides Financial Literacy Month, April is also Tax Month, with your personal tax returns due on April 18th. Did you file your return yet?

Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt is a big issue. It is the most common way of funding your college and graduate school education – but doing so has become a ‘Game of Loans’. And since money is my game, you’ll also note it’s my name…. Frank Money that is!…See what I did there?

Before you start to think that getting a student loan is like an alliance with the House Lannister, understanding what you are getting into is an important first step.

In the U.S., the total outstanding student loan debt is around $1.2 trillion dollars with the average student debt for a grad being around $33.000 (2014 figures).

Come off of graduation day with $33,000 in debt that begins to require monthly payments shortly thereafter can definitely take the wind out of your sails – and prevent you from being able to purchase other things you might want, like a car or home.

Perhaps the biggest question you need to ask yourself is what is the return on my investment for the education you are financing. Will the degree you earned ‘pay off’ in giving you enough income over your working life to afford paying off the loan  it required -and- prove you with enough remaining $$$ to actually live the life you want?

As a general rule – try to avoid student loans as much as possible. Look for other monies, some of which is available for little cost to you in scholarships.

It’s sometimes daunting to understand all the facets of the ‘Game of Loans’ – but taking steps to investigate the rules of the game will prevent you from ending up with the dragons.

Your Personal Financial Plan

Attention, now, listen up! It’s important to have a personal financial plan. Here is the top ten list for everyone, that will help you with smart money practices and habits:

1 – Create a Budget – Simply stated, it’s figuring out how much money is coming in and how much money is going out. In fact, click here to download our Budget PDF. http://talkinmoney.org/files/Budget-Mania.pdf

2 – Track how much you spend – For the next seven days, track all your spending – you’ll be surprised on where the money goes!

3 – Live Within Your Means – Every first time college student will tell you how fast they blew through all their money. Don;t spend what you don;t have.

4 – Set Goals for Yourself – Take time to establish goals. Make them realistic and attainable. For example, saving towards a big purchase, or paying down your credit cards.

5 – Credit Card 101 – Speaking of paying down your credit cards, if you have the habit of paying your credit card balance fully, every month, this will go a long way in helping your credit scores!

6 – Student Loan 101 – Don’t take out college loans for anything but educational and living expenses!

7 – Never Be Late On A Payment – Always pay on time. Avoid late fees. This will tremendously help your credit score. If you are going to be late, call and talk to the company, they will always make arrangements.

8 – Create an Emergency Fund – Try to build your savings to three months living expenses.

9 – Be Smart and Save – Pinch your pennies and be smart about your spending and it will save you $$$. Here’s a resource of money-saving tips (http://www.collegescholarships.org/student-living/save-money.htm)

10 – Find Scholarships, Avoid Loans – There is free money for the taking in the form of scholarships. Seek those out first, before you go after that easy-to-get college loan.

April is National Financial Literacy Month, Detective Frank Money’s favorite month! To celebrate the importance of being financially literate, Detective Money is going to post financial literacy tips every day.

Identity Theft

There’s one private investigator who’s middle name is ‘Identity Theft’!  Talkin’ Money’s own Frank Money!

With everyone walking around with their heads buried in their smart phones and tablets, it’s easy to forget that these devices can also carry your entire financial history! So listen up, folks, I’m about to drop some pearls of wisdom to help you avoid identity theft.

One of our biggest crimes today is Consumer Fraud. Criminals don’t have to rob a bank anymore. I see this all the time – they just get a hold of your personal information and let the buying spree, courtesy of your account, begin!

But listen up, a couple of things in your favor. Credit cards today will protect you from fraud. But you must stay vigilant. If you see charges that don’t belong to you, contact your credit card company right away and they’ll work it out with you. Another thing is always be in control of your personal information and that includes your social security number, pins and passwords, and while we’re on the subject, don’t carry your social security card. Leave it at home.

Question anyone who wants that personal information from you and you are well on your way to tackling Identity Theft.

Keeping Financial Records

There’s one private investigator who’s middle name is ‘Organized’! Talkin’ Money’s own Frank Money!

Keeping your financial records organized is no small feat. So put down that slice of pizza, wash your hands and listen up. If your papers are scattered all over the place, not put in their proper folders and not kept up to date then how do you expect to find anything when you really need them, especially during tax season?

Here’s another question. Do you even know what records should be kept? We’re not only talking about Income Tax Records but how about Warranties, Insurance Policies, Home Purchase and Lease Contracts. The list keeps growing and that’s why you need to get organized.

Now in today’s world a lot of these financial records can be kept in your fancy computers or online. Either way be sure to keep back-ups on all of your information by using a flash drive or external hard drive. Remember computers and other electronics don’t last forever so keep up to date with your back-ups. Now don’t say I didn’t give you anything free, Sometimes it just takes a little detective work.