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Financial literacy impacts decision making

Research by the US Federal Trade Commission shows that financial education affects financial decision-making. Failure to plan for retirement, lack of participation in the stock market, and poor borrowing behavior can all be linked to ignorance of basic financial concepts.

Some of these findings, from the 2008 paper Financial Literacy: An Essential Tool for Informed Consumer Choice? by Annamaria Lusardi, may seem quite obvious at first glance. For example, the author points out that those who demonstrate even a basic understanding of relevant financial topics are much more likely to have planned for retirement. These are not sophisticated topics, but basic things such as knowledge of interest compounding and the ability to perform simple mathematical calculations . Skills like these were shown to be among the strongest predictors of successful retirement planning.

To appeal to the average person, who may not have had a lot of prior exposure to financial topics or investment experience, the study suggest a social or even a psychological approach to financial education, for example exploiting “teachable moments” like the beginning of a new job, in order to get a person to think about taking action when their minds are open to new ideas about how financial decisions may affect their lives.

While the points raised by this study are reasonable, the challenge faced by society, even wealthy countries, is vast. Since the late 1980s when there were significant changes in laws regarding retirement planning, companies were much more free to move from traditional defined benefit plans like pensions to defined contribution plans like 401K plans that shift the responsibility of planning from the corporation to the individual.

While individuals and organizations with high levels of financial sophistication, such as firms specializing in industry specific areas such as chemicals m&a experts can easily manage rather exotic financial decisions, the average person has a much more difficult situation. Financial instruments have become increasingly complex and individuals are constantly being bombarded by the investment industry with new and financial products. However, most individuals are not well equipped to make financial decisions.

The study showed that most individuals cannot perform simple calculations and lack knowledge of basic financial concepts. Knowledge of more complex concepts, such as the difference between bonds and stocks, how mutual funds, and how to estimate the value of an asset is even rarer. Financial illiteracy is widespread among the general population, and particularly evident in some demographic groups that happen to also be overrepresented among the poor and struggling working class, such as women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and those with low levels of formal education.

A Quick Guide to Planning your Wedding Abroad

For some people the ideal mental image of the happiest day of their life involves a flowing white dress, an English country village and a traditional church filled with family and friends. For others it involves golden sands, palm trees and guests in bikinis. If you find yourself leaning more towards the latter fantasy wedding, then perhaps a wedding abroad is for you.

Newlyweds at sunset

So why choose a wedding abroad over a traditional wedding in the UK? There are a multitude of reasons – including weather, novelty and most surprisingly, cost.

Many a British wedding has been rained out to the utter dismay of the (slightly less) happy couple, so the attraction of hosting a wedding in a tropical paradise – where blazing sunshine and temperate climate are almost guaranteed – is easy to see. Obviously it is important to avoid the rainy seasons, but in general the weather for your big day will be assured compared to the unpredictable UK weather.

The novelty factor of having your wedding abroad cannot be underestimated. Whilst your friends will look back in years to come at the same ‘cookie-cutter’ wedding photos that are indistinguishable from every other wedding – you will be able to look back at photos of you enjoying the happiest day of your life on an exotic beach, the top of Niagara falls or wherever else your imagination can conjure up.

Your unique wedding abroad will also never be forgotten by your guests – but if you are planning a wedding abroad make sure to send your invitations out considerably earlier than you would for a wedding closer to home, to allow your guests to make travel arrangements.

Surprisingly the difference in cost between a wedding abroad and a wedding in the UK can often not be as extreme as you might think and this can be for a number of reasons. The average spend on a wedding in the UK is usually between £20,000 and £30,000. If you are planning to hold your wedding on an island in the Caribbean, where the local currency is generally dollars, when you take into account the exchange rate you can certainly get a lot more bang for your buck. As you will be spending a considerable sum on the arrangement of the wedding, it is also worth looking into international money transfer as a secure way of paying for the venue.

Finally it pays not to forget that the marriage ceremony is a legal procedure as well as celebration of your union, so be sure to research the relevant legal considerations of the country you are planning to be married in, as this can vary from country to country.

Financial planning tips for working aborad this summer

Many students opt to take jobs abroad for the summer holidays, or their gap year after college. It’s a great way to earn money, broaden horizons, have fun and experience a new culture.

At the same time, however, working abroad in a foreign country for the first time, managing a new culture and keeping a reign on your finances can be difficult.

Common problems include failing to budget, failing to accurately translate prices into UK pounds mentally when purchasing items, relying on expensive balance transfers rather than setting up an international bank account and withdrawing regular small sums from a UK account from foreign cash points.

It can be tempting to keep a UK bank or checking account when heading abroad, but your new employer will pay you in the local currency and regular small amount exchanges will attract costly fees. Of course, if your are an insurance agent in Charlotte, an overseas checking account may not be of much use.

Furthermore, carrying out regular transfers from UK pounds to local currency will erode your valuable earnings through fees and commissions.

This is particularly prevalent when using cash points, debit cards at certain outlets, or changing money at exchange bureau with high rates of commission.

So firstly, sort out a local currency account with a local bank in your country of summer employment. You’ll need your passport, residential identification and proof of employment.

Arrange to have your wages paid into this account, get your head around the exchange rate and begin operating and managing your summer in the local currency.

Secondly, make sure you have adequate insurance set up before you go abroad. If you get sick or hurt at work, how will you be covered? Have your paperwork in a safe place, with photocopies and key details backed up elsewhere just in case.

Thirdly, avoid using your mobile phone to call home. Get a local SIM card to your summer home or an international calling card, which will make significant cost savings on your calls. Similarly, look for free WiFi areas, use internet cafes or get local data SIMs before using a UK laptop or mobile abroad for the internet.

Get used to cooking the local food and experiment. Ask for recommendations and find the local supermarket as eating out will rapidly eat into your wages!

Find ways to socialise without spending a fortune. If your objective is to save money beyond your summer stay, this is especially important, as it’s easy to drink away your wages.

Join a football team, or an evening running group. Go on Twitter or Meet Up and find interest groups in the area. Speak to colleagues for ideas, especially if community is a strong theme. Meet new people in the town squares, at Sunday sports events, at house parties and dinners. Just avoid expensive bars every night.

Also, try to learn the local language – until then you will really be a stranger in your host country. At least show willing to picking up a few phrases here and there to dispel the myth that foreigners don’t make the effort.

Finally, enjoy the experience! Get your daily finances in place – and ideally book a return ticket home while funds are high – and then make the most of your summer working holiday. Meet new people, get on a bike and see new sights, experience new tastes, sounds, scents – and come home all the better for the broadening experience.

What You Need to Know About PayDay Loans

No matter who you are, if you live in the US you have been exposed to payday loan companies. Either you have used one to get a loan, you know someone who has used one, you have seen one of their offices in your neighborhood, or you have heard about them online, on TV, or on the radio. It isn’t just poor neighborhoods anymore. You can find them in the most exclusive Zip Codes in the country. If you don’t want to walk into one, you don’t have to. Online payday loans make it easy to use one in private if you don’t want your boss (or worse, your employee) walk into one.

Most personal financial advisers would suggest that you don’t use these services, and if you are using them now stop doing so. Why would financial experts recommend this, especially if you don’t have access to traditional loan sources like a credit card, bank, or credit union? If you know more about them, maybe their advice would make more sense.

What Is a PayDay Loan?
A classic payday loan nothing more than a short-term term loan where the company issuing the loan requires that you have a job with a steady paycheck before you get the loan. A payday loan may have other names, like a cash advance loan, check advance loan, post-dated check loan, or a deferred deposit loans.

The names may be different, but they all work in a similar way. The borrower writes a personal check payable to the lender for the loan amount plus any fees. The payday loan company the gives the borrower the loan amount (some may deposit the amount electronically into the borrower’s bank account), and agrees to hold the check until the loan is due, usually the next time the borrower gets paid. The loan (plus the fee) gets paid off after the next payday.

Payday Loans Are Very Expensive
If the loan is extended, or “rolled over,” you may be charged new fees or penalties, making it harder for the borrower to pay it off. How expensive can it get? For example, say you need to borrow $100 for two weeks. You write a personal check for $110, with the $10 being the fee for the loan. The payday lender agrees to hold your check until your next payday. When that day comes around, you either pay it off or rollover the loan until next payday. You may have to pay even more than $10 for this rollover fee. If you roll-over the loan several times, the finance charge might be half or more of your original loan amount.

Payday loans are much more popular with people who can’t get short term credit from their bank or credit union. Not surprisingly, payday loan businesses are much more common than banks or credit unions in poor neighborhoods.

Options to Payday Loan Companies

    Before you take out a payday loan, you should consider one or more of the following options:

  • Banks and Credit Unions: Ask if they have credit options that fit your needs. Even if they said no before, they may say yes now.
  • Community Organizations: A local community-based organization may make small loans to individuals or small businesses.
  • Cash Advances: A cash advance on a credit card or check card (typically an ATM card that can be used like a credit card) also may be possible, but it may have a higher interest rate than a regular bank or credit union loan.
  • Negotiate with Your Creditors: If you see a short term financial problem coming up, contact your creditors or loan servicer as quickly as possible if you are having trouble with your payments, and ask for more time. Many may be willing to work with consumers who they believe are acting in good faith. They may offer an extension on your bills; make sure to find out what the charges would be for that service — a late charge, an additional finance charge, or a higher interest rate.
  • Get Help: Contact your local consumer credit counseling service if you need help working out a debt repayment plan with creditors or developing a budget. Non-profit groups in every state offer credit guidance to consumers for no or low cost. You may want to check with your employer, credit union, or housing authority for no- or low-cost credit counseling programs, too.
  • Plan Your Spending: You can avoid going to a payday loan company if you take the time to understand your own finances. That means understanding how much comes in, how much goes out, and making spending decisions so you will have money left over at the end of the month.
  • Save More: You savings can help you avoid borrowing from a payday loan company in emergencies.

If you have not choice and have to use a payday loan company, borrow only what you can afford to pay with your next paycheck — and make it a goal to survive to the next payday without borrowing any more money.