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Financial Mindfulness

The word “mindfulness” is self-explanatory and vague at the same time; of course, it involves the mind, but how exactly does someone practice mindfulness? Though a specific definition or illustration is hard to pin down, mindfulness, at its core, is simply the practice of being aware of your thoughts, emotions, or experiences in the present moment. Mindfulness can have a positive effect on almost all areas of your life including your finances. By implementing mindfulness into your daily life, you can beat bad financial habits and get closer to your money goals.

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The Golden Years: Staying Mentally and Physically Fit During Retirement

For working people, retirement is the final stretch, the milestone that signifies a time to relax and reap the benefits of decades of hard work. Though retirement is indeed a time to relax, having a successful retirement takes planning and dedication both before and during your golden years. In order to stay healthy as you age and make the most out of your retirement, it’s important to prioritize your mental and physical health. Here are some ways to keep your mind and body sharp and active.

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Eating, Moving & Saving

We all know that living an unhealthy lifestyle— eating junk food, smoking cigarettes, or being sedentary—can have major physical consequences. However, an unhealthy lifestyle can also have financial ramifications. Even though some people associate being healthy with expensive gym memberships or organic produce, a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean an empty wallet. In fact, realigning your diet and exercise can pay off in the short and long term.

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Health & Wealth

“Wellness” has been a major buzzword recently. With the new wellness trend, you mostly hear about fit teas and meditation apps— not retirement plans and savings accounts. However, financial wellness is a growing concept, and many businesses are implementing financial wellness plans for their employees. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau defines financial wellness as “having control over day-to-day finances, being able to absorb a financial shock, being on track toward financial goals, and having the freedom to make choices to help you enjoy life.” Financial wellness can affect other areas of life beyond your bank account. It’s intertwined with wellness of the mind and body; addressing your wealth can have a positive effect on your health.

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How to Deal with Student Debt

Student loan debt is the second highest consumer debt category behind only mortgage debt; it even surpasses credit card debt and auto loans. Student loans have become pervasive throughout the degree-holding population, but they don’t have to be overwhelming or life-changing. By minimizing loan amounts and choosing the right repayment plan, both parents and graduates can effectively deal with their debt.

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Early Education & Economic Development

Deciding if and when your child should enter preschool is an important decision for any parent. A child’s first years have an enormous impact on their future, and a lack of access to positive learning environments can be detrimental. Unfortunately, the topic of early care and education doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves. An investment in early care and education not only yields mental, academic, and socioeconomic benefits for the child, it encourages future economic growth.

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The College Question

This May, tens of thousands of college graduates will walk across the stage to receive a diploma; at the same time, high school students will complete their last full month of school before summer. May is an important month on the academic calendar. Both high school and college students are making long-term financial decisions that can affect their future for decades to come. While many young people choose to enroll in a four-year degree program following high school, others decide to delay their degree or pursue trade school. Each path has its own financial pros and cons.

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The Four Points of Financial Literacy

As you’ve probably heard, April is financial literacy month, and as April comes to an end, it’s time to reflect on your own degree of financial literacy. In order to assess financial literacy, consider these four criteria from Standard & Poor’s Global Financial Literacy Survey. According to S&P, financial literacy requires an understanding of interest rates, interest compounding, inflation, and risk diversification. Test your understanding with the questions below, borrowed from S&P’s survey. If you’re unsure about the question or answer incorrectly, make sure to read the explanation.

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Financial Literacy Barriers And How To Solve Them

Financial literacy is not innate; it must be learned. The learning process may look like a parent giving their child a small weekly allowance, or a high school teacher covering the basics of student loan debt. However, not everyone receives a financial education from their parents or teachers. And though the internet contains vast amounts of financial information, it’s hard to find resources when you don’t know what to look for. Your socioeconomic background largely determines your lifelong financial knowledge and spending habits. Living in or growing up in poverty creates psychological side effects that are barriers to financial literacy. Organizations like Common Wealth Charlotte and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library are trying to counter that by providing financial education programs for those who never had the resources or ability.

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Let’s Address the Financial Literacy Problem.

How much do you know about interest rates, compounding interest, inflation, or risk diversification? Your knowledge of these concepts determines your level of financial literacy. Standard & Poor defines financial literacy as “having the ability to make informed financial choices regarding saving, investing, borrowing, and more” (Klapper 4). The stats are in, and Americans have room to improve when it comes to financial literacy. Rates of financial literacy in the U.S. differ depending on the source, criteria, and year, but Americans’ high rates of debt and low rates of saving and planning speak for themselves. However, a proactive approach on the part of educators and experts can reverse this downward spiral.

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