Category Archives: Personal Finance

The Challenge of Economic Literacy and Its Effects on Personal Finance

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One of the ugly realities of modern-day America is that nearly the majority of citizens – of every age group and most every income bracket – simply don’t have the kind of financial or economic literacy that our modern world demands.

Worst of all, it seems like most Americans aren’t even aware of the fact that they are struggling with economic and financial literacy issues to begin with. They simply don’t know what they don’t know. In fact, according to a recent survey published by the research group Raddon, more than 44% of Americans believe that they are either “very” or “extremely” financially literate – but when given a financial quiz only 6% of that group went on to receive a passing grade.

This is obviously putting a considerable amount of pressure on the lives of millions and it’s not only crippling the near financial future of this current generation but also the far-reaching future of generations to come. Combine that with the horrific impact that financial illiteracy can have when you throw consumer lending and credit issues into the mix and we’re looking at another powder keg that could end up like the Great Recession (or even worse).

Americans Are in Trouble When It Comes to Financial Literacy

The Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services Global Financial Literacy Survey has America ranked as the 14th country in the nation when it comes to financial literacy with a 57% adult financial literacy level; to put that into perspective, this would mean that the US is only slightly more financially literate than the nation of Botswana – a nation that is 1127% smaller than the United States and certainly nowhere near as financially prosperous or as influential as far as the global economy is concerned.

Combine that with the fact that the same survey found that only about 30% of US citizens could answer questions regarding inflation, how interest works, and risk diversification, and we’re looking at a huge problem here with no immediate plans for improvement. On top of this, there’s no real focus on formally educating young people about financial literacy even though it’s going to have an outsized impact on their lives – more so than maybe any other subject they do learn about in school.

In concerns to education, only 1/3 of states throughout America require high school students to take courses in personal finance, and the majority of those schools only require students to take these courses as a portion of a different study or discipline. There’s only five states in the US that require entire semester long and standalone personal finance courses – and unsurprisingly these five states have some of the highest rates of financial literacy in the US today.

Some consumer lending and consumer credit companies know that the general American population isn’t all that savvy when it comes to personal finance; for that reason, they indulge in predatory marketing in order to take advantage of the financial illiteracy of consumers. This makes subprime loans a popular go-to in cases of extreme financial strain for certain undereducated populations.  

With Americans having to take on more financial responsibilities now than ever before, they easily fall prey to such lending tactics because they aren’t understanding their risks and – without proper education – it is easy to imagine that many would feel overwhelmed, trapped, and thrown for a loop when borrowing. This is especially the case in the payday loan, title loan, and cash advance industries. It is important for people to educate themselves not only about the ins-and-outs of these types of financing but also how to take back control of their finances all together.

Taking Control of Your Personal Finances

It is possible to take better control over your personal finances and improve your financial literacy all on your own.

Learn the Basics

For starters, it’s important to (obviously) begin at the beginning.

You’ll want to get a foundational education in the basics of personal finance, not only figuring out essentials like:

  • How to budget
  • How loans and credit cards really work
  • How to calculate interest
  • How to build an emergency fund
  • How to save for retirement
  • How to invest
  • How to handle your taxes

But also figuring out what your specific “financial personality” is like so that you can develop systems and habits that best serve your financial goals and your financial behavior.

Lean on Technology

It’s also a really good idea to lean on the tools and technology available online today in personal-finance communities that can help you jumpstart your financial literacy – without you having to go through the minutiae of traditional personal-finance textbooks and educational courses.

There are many personal finance apps that can quickly get you up to speed, help you with a lot of your financial literacy heavy lifting, and even automate a lot of your personal finance goals and habits that you’d like help instilling.

Build A Budget That Works

At the end of the day, all personal finance begins with building a budget that really works while tracking and accounting for every single dollar that comes into your life as well as every single dollar that goes out. 

Gaining control of your finances can seem daunting and overwhelming at first, but by implementing small changes at a time with the assistance of these tools and advice – slowly but surely – the overhaul of the way you see and think about money will come.

I Need Help. Can I Afford Therapy?

We are living in a time where many people are facing unprecedented financial hardships. Finances can be a barrier when it comes to emotional wellness. Worrying about money may impact our mental health substantially. When you don’t have much expendable income, it means you need to cut items out of your budget. Unfortunately, sometimes that means removing things that are necessary like therapy. It’s important to cut corners where you can, but when it comes to your wellbeing, cutting corners is dangerous. You don’t have to take out therapy from your life. Mental health care is more affordable than you think. It’s all about looking in the right places.

Contact your insurance company

When you’re seeking mental health treatment, the first thing that you can do is ask for a referral to a therapist from a doctor. It’s particularly useful to do this if you have health insurance because your provider knows who covers you. You can also call your insurance company to see who is covered. Maybe you have an insurance plan that doesn’t cover enough mental health-related treatment. Perhaps, you are paying for private insurance, but you qualify for something cheaper like state coverage or Medicaid. If that’s the case, look for a more affordable insurance plan. When you call your provider or look on their website, think about your needs and see what providers you can find who meet them. For example, if you have OCD, request someone who specializes in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Sliding scale therapy and other options

Another option to look into is therapists who offer sliding scale rates. Some therapists can negotiate their rate based on your income. If that; ‘s the case, they will typically state it on their website, but it never hurts to call and ask. If they say no, you can ask and see if they know of someone who does offer a sliding scale rate. If you are really in a pinch, there are sometimes free groups for specific issues or modes of therapy that you can find through a quick web search where you type in your geographical location and what you’re looking for in terms of a group therapy option. Community centers are another place to look. If you are a university student, it’s almost sure that mental health services will be available through providers that work with your school.

Online counseling

Online counseling, also known as telehealth, is becoming increasingly popular. Since the emergence of COVID-19 many providers who primarily practiced in person in the past have switched to online medicine. However, that does not mean that their rates went down, and that’s why you may want to consider getting services through a website like BetterHelp online counseling. Sites that are built for online therapy offer far cheaper rates; sometimes, getting therapy or counseling this way can cut your bill to about one-fourth or one-third of what it might have been. The best part is that websites like BetterHelp offer a network of licensed providers, meaning that your care will be accessible and will remain high quality.

Nothing is more important than your life.

Therapy is indeed an additional expense. However, your mental health is a vital investment, so rather than thinking of mental health care as an extra bill, think of it as a non-negotiable necessity. Nothing is more important than making sure that you are in the best emotional and physical place possible. Stable mental health will help you in every area of your life including work, relationships, family, friendships, and any other endeavors. Whether you see someone online, in a private practice setting, in a community center, or at your university, put your health first and don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

Things to Consider When Sports Betting with Your Own Money

Sports betting is one of those industries that appeals to a large number of people – even those who aren’t specifically interested in sports, in general. After all, there’s quite the thrill that comes along with placing a bet on different teams or players and then seeing that wager be a winning one. But, can you make money from sports betting activities?

Well, there are certain things to consider when signing up to an online sportsbook and participating in it. Different sites provide different options, and what’s more there are some platforms that are a lot more trustworthy than others. That’s why it’s always good to visit a good review site. The sport site Nostrabet is a good one to check out, as there are various recommended online sports betting sites available to read about there. Going there, you’ll likely be able to find your favourite online sportsbook without having to put too much effort into seeking one out yourself. Nostrabet does it all for you.

Now, the important thing to remember about participating in online gambling is that many platforms will also provide bonuses and special promotions as well. These can be great to take advantage of, especially as a newcomer, but be wary of the terms connected to such offers. Make sure that you’re fully aware of the rules surrounding the reception of a bonus or a free bet, for example. The gambling world is full of fraudsters, right down to the players, who can sometimes con others into entering betting schemes.

What to Be Aware of at Betting Sites

While it’s important to remember that your money is yours to do what you like with, it’s also relevant to know that you shouldn’t dive in headfirst. Keep control over your balance and use the funds wisely. Only place careful bets, especially to begin with. Get used to the way that sports betting works, and always walk away if you find that you can’t risk the amount that you have.

Be sure that the sportsbook you’ve opted to sign up to is licensed and regulated, too. If you use the aforementioned Nostrabet link, then you’ll quickly realise that all of the recommended platforms are legal and licensed. This is important to ensure that your money is being deposited and wagered at a place with strict rules to follow regarding customer security.

Furthermore, don’t go into online sports betting with the preconception that you will win, because nothing is ever able to be guaranteed. Just have fun with it, enjoy the bets that you place and if you do come up on the losing end, don’t try to recover your losses in a fit of anger. This is the gambling world, and you need to maintain a level head. Without it, you could end up becoming addicted, and that’s definitely a problem. One woman recently committed suicide after spending one year’s wages at online gambling sites. Yet, if you go about it responsibly, you can potentially build up a nice balance from placing informed sports bets.