You and Your Money: A No-Stress Guide to Becoming Financially Fit

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9780131003101: You and Your Money: A No-Stress Guide to Becoming Financially Fit

“With over 70% of American workers living paycheck to paycheck, basic money management skills are needed desperately. This is a masterful work that guides us to discover our own money dysfunctions and takes us on a journey to healthy financial behaviors.”

       –Sally Hass, Employee Benefits Life Planning Manager, Weyerhaeuser Company

 

“This book combines solid knowledge of societal trends in personal finance with guidance on how to develop a sense of purpose about money and get financially fit for a lifetime. I heartily recommend it.”

       –Kelvin Boston, host Moneywise PBS Series and author of Who's Afraid To Be A Millionaire?

 

“The rules have changed on how to achieve the American Dream. What many of us consider a fundamental right will be out of reach unless we get smart and take action now. The authors get right to the point by helping readers define what they care most about and then set them on a path to achieving true financial well-being.”

       –Carol Anderson, President and CEO of Money Quotient, specialists in financial planning education

 

“The authors have looked at the current disastrous consumer model and envision a ‘New’ American Dream. They break the rules, set up a new framework for humanized finances, and challenge consumers to change the future by changing their habits, now.”

       –Dean Brassington, Financial Educator and U.S. Navy Quality of Life Program and Design Consultant

 

“The great merit of this book is that it reads like an engaging conversation. Given the mass of undigested financial information, everyone needs this discourse that helps to position and orient oneself in the money universe, and then act. It bridges the gap between a complicated world out there and one's personal and family orbit.”

       –Jurg Siegenthaler, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, American University

 

Based on extensive nationwide research conducted by the author and the Institute for Socio-Financial Studies about what people need to learn and do to become financially savvy, You and Your Money gives you the skills you need to be financially competent and self-sufficient...so you can make the right decisions about money–today, tomorrow, always!

 

You don’t need to know everything about personal finance. You do need to know three things: where you stand today, what you can do now, and how to become more financially secure for the rest of your life.

 

    This book helps you answer those three questions. It’s easy, readable, practical, and quick.

 

    It gives you simple, common-sense tools for achieving financial success...tools you can use in every part of your life, not just finance!

 

    It brings together real stories from real people. People like you. People who know what they want, and just need to know how to get there. 

  •  CREATE YOUR OWN PERSONAL LIFE VALUES PROFILE: The book helps you develop your unique personal profile so you can better assess your own goals and know how to achieve them
  • GET SAVVY, AND FEEL MUCH MORE IN CONTROL: Easy, quick ways to take charge of your financial well-being
  • GROW YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT SYSTEM, STEP-BY-STEP: Learn to communicate about money–and find objective, honest help when you need it
  • PLAN YOUR FINANCES AROUND THE CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE: Plan for life transitions, prepare for disasters, and learn how to recover from financial setbacks

 

Foreword xvi

Preface xviii

Acknowledgments xx

About the Authors xxi

 

PART I: MAINTAINING A POSITIVE OUTLOOK 1

 

Chapter 1: The Right Stuff 3

Chapter 2: The “New” American Dream 13

Chapter 3: How We Decide 25

Chapter 4: Your Life Values Profile 33

Chapter 5: Moving to Secure Money Management 51

Chapter 6: A Word About Fear 63

 

PART II: BEING ACTIVE IN FINANCIAL AFFAIRS 75

 

Chapter 7: Who’s in Charge of Your Financial Well-Being? 77

Chapter 8: Becoming a Savvy Consumer 89

Chapter 9: Getting and Keeping Good Credit 103

Chapter 10: Staying Ahead of Scammers and Thieves 119

Chapter 11: Committing to a Savings Plan 133

 

PART III: BUILDING A FINANCIAL SUPPORT SYSTEM 145

 

Chapter 12: Communicating About Money–Count the Ways 147

Chapter 13: Tapping Into the Financial Marketplace 165

Chapter 14: Building Your Assets 181

Chapter 15: Choosing Housing Wisely 201

 

PART IV: COPING WELL WITH CHANGE AND LOSS 221

 

Chapter 16: Planning for Life Transitions 223

Chapter 17: Preparing for Disasters 239

Chapter 18: Recovering from Adversity 253

Chapter 19: Finding the Help You Need 265

 

Appendix: Personal Finance Education Internet Sites 277

Endnotes 293

Index 299

 

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

LOIS A. VITT is founding director of the Institute for Socio-Financial Studies, and one of the leading U.S. authorities on financial education. Her work has been quoted by Alan Greenspan in testimony before Congress on the state of financial literacy in the United States.

 

Vitt has directed nationwide studies on financial education in the United States, including Personal Finance and the Rush to Competence: Financial Literacy Education in the U.S. (for the Fannie Mae Foundation); and Goodbye to Complacency: Financial Literacy Education in the U.S. 2000-2005 (for AARP). She is a member of the AARP Business and Aging Education Advisory Board.

 

KAREN L. MURRELL is president and founder of Higher Heights Consulting and Training and is the creator of several nationally recognized financial education programs. Her company provides financial education services to Fortune 500 companies as well as to private foundations and nonprofit organizations.

 

Murrell previously held leadership positions at Fannie Mae and the Fannie Mae Foundation where she helped launch initiatives that enabled millions of consumers to become homeowners. She developed financial education publications in nine languages and helped implement a public education advertising campaign in multiple languages. She currently serves as a research fellow at the New America Foundation.

 

 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Preface

PREFACE

A movement toward increased consumer financial literacy is gathering momentum across communities, schools and colleges, workplaces, faith-based organizations, financial companies, the media, and all levels of government. Its message is clear: The key to success in the twenty-first century is within everyone's grasp if we embrace the concept of personal responsibility. To get ahead, we simply need to take charge of our own financial livelihoods.

Although consumers today have unprecedented access to financial resources through work, news sources, articles and books, seminars, and Internet offerings, there's more to the equation than just information. There are other complexities. More than just receiving information, we also need to understand the general economy, the capital markets, the health care system, and the details in the contracts we sign. If you are confused, you are in good company. Even noted Harvard University law professor and consumer advocate, Elizabeth Warren, complained on national public television that she found it difficult to understand all the fine print in a typical credit card contract.1

Typically, sponsors of financial education and published information believe that when people are given access to financial advice, they will automatically choose to be more prudent in their spending decisions. Financial information alone, it is thought, is enough to motivate people to plan ahead, save for emergencies, invest for future education costs and for retirement, and engage financial service professionals to help navigate the maze of investment choices.

Unfortunately, it isn't that simple. Financial information alone—no matter how skillfully it is presented—often does not resonate with most people mainly because the information is so voluminous and the changes in society are coming at us so fast that it seems we will never process it all.

The laws of motion as defined by Sir Isaac Newton and the great astronomer Galileo provide a framework for understanding inertia and momentum. Their wisdom indicates that a body at rest will remain at rest until moved by an outside force. The law of motion applied to understanding financial issues and putting them in practice—saving for emergencies, education, home ownership, and retirement—suggests that if people do little to plan for these life events (that is, remain at rest), they will make little headway.2 Some outside force is necessary to provide the push to prepare for future financial security.

Unlike inert objects, however, we humans require some inner spark to generate the momentum that can propel us forward. In other words, the "outside force" of available financial information and education must be met by an "inner desire" to learn and to apply financial concepts. Partially due to how complicated we may think it is and how busy we are and partially due to our "buy now and pay later" culture, that spark may have been dampened. We may have fallen behind the curve of personal financial knowledge.

It doesn't have to remain this way.

As financial education researchers, teachers, and consultants, we've seen how the principles we write about in this book can turn even rank amateurs into competent money managers who enjoy the process of building financial security. You and Your Money combines our insights about today's changing societal realities, the character traits of people who have achieved success, and the financial basics. We show you four steps everyone can take to attain the promises of the New American Dream of the twenty-first century.

The first thing to realize is that we all make money from the inside out! Once we see the possibilities and realize they are within our reach, then we can achieve them. With this in mind, you can change your behaviors and spending and savings patterns and can implement a new strategy that will transform your approach to finances. Your savvy in this critical area can improve the quality of your whole life. You can be more confident about who's in charge of your financial well-being.

You are!

Lois A. Vitt/Karen L. Murrell
Middleburg, VA/Silver Spring, MD
lvitt@isfs.org/kmurrell@higherheightsconsulting.com


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