Millennial Financial Literacy (or lack thereof)

I ran across this research and felt it was worth sharing.  Apparently, and not surprising to me (from my own personal experience,) millennials are pretty terrible within the realm of personal finance; I, myself, was oblivious until a year-and-a-half ago, at the age of twenty-seven.  While there are those of us out there who have been getting it right all along, by and large, that is just not the norm.

George Washington University, supported by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC,) compiled data from the 2012 National Financial Capability Study, analyzing over 5,500 responses from people ranging in age from 23-35, in order to gain understanding of decisions that are threatening Millennials financial security.   What they found was that, on average, millennials don’t know much about finance to begin with; in fact, only 24% of those surveyed had “basic financial knowledge.”  On a positive note, “8% demonstrated high financial literacy.”

Additionally, 34% of millennials are unhappy with their current financial situation, over 54% are concerned about their ability to repay student loans, 30% overdraw their checking accounts, and 42% utilize what are known as “Alternative Financial Services” (e.g. payday advances, title loans, and rent-to-own services.)  Furthermore, of those who actually have some retirement savings (only 36% of us!), 20% have taken loans from their accounts in the past year.  53% carry credit card balances from month-to-month and half of us couldn’t even come up with $2,000 for an emergency.

Part of the report’s conclusion reads:  “Millennials’ financial practices are of concern because of the potential for these behaviors to become firmly established. Indeed, the research has documented that the gap between the amount of financial responsibility given to young Americans and their demonstrated ability to manage financial decisions is rapidly widening. Furthermore, their knowledge deficit could prove disastrous for them, the economy, and society.” – underlined emphasis added by me.


Some additional information on the subject:  according to Survey of the States, only 17 states currently require a high school level course in personal finance and 20 require a course in economics.  Standardized testing in economics is only required in 16 states, a drop from 27 since 2002.  Is it just me, or does the timing of these changes occurring since the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) seem a bit coincidental?  By 2010, nearly 40% of schools were lagging behind in the requirements of the law, leading the Obama administration to issue waivers in exchange for implementation of Common Core, aimed at “preparing students for higher education and the workforce” (edweek.org.)

Here’s my point…how does a program aimed at improving the education of our nation’s children (myself included) result in a decrease in curriculum that would do that very thing?  With the required standards, schools inability to reach them, and consequences associated with not reaching them, schools were essentially forced to “teach the test,” thereby spending less time on subjects not found on the standardized tests themselves.


So how do we solve the problem?  EDUCATION!  Obviously, we can’t solely rely on the school system to teach us and our children about personal financial matters.  That responsibility, as it should in my opinion, falls on our shoulders as parents.  According to additional information from Survey of the States, 72% of parents are reluctant to talk to their kids about family financial matters.  We must break this cycle, educate ourselves and our loved ones, and without a doubt, talk to our children about money and how to utilize it responsibly so that they may grow up and make sound financial decisions.  We must get ourselves on the right track and raise our children with a solid foundation that will help them to not make the same mistakes that we have made.


As you are sending your children and their young minds out to school this morning, I ask you this:

  1. If you are a parent with school-age children, how do you feel your child’s or children’s school system is fairing in their education, both as a whole and on topics such as these (i.e. personal finance)?
  2. Are you homeschooling?  Why have you chosen to do so?
  3. Are you educating your children at home about personal finance in conjunction with state schooling?

What are your thoughts?  Happy Monday!

 

-Frugal RN

 

 

Guiltless Pleasures

For me, this subject centers on food.  I love to grill…anything really…but especially steak.  My guilty pleasure (and guiltless splurge) is beef tenderloin.  This particular cut of meat at our local butcher runs between $8.50 to $10 per pound, and while I would certainly love for it to be cheaper, I find it to be worth every single penny.  Throw in a Yukon gold baked potato and a salad with romaine lettuce, and that is my idea of the perfect meal.  All three of those items have cheaper alternatives on a per-unit basis, but I honestly just don’t care.  I truly enjoy them and savor every bite, every time.

Next item…coffee.  My wife and I each average one cup a day that we make in our four year old Keurig.  We love and splurge on Starbuck’s blonde roast.  Mmmmmm 🙂

The reason I have no shame in splurging on these items is that the enjoyment, in comparison to other alternatives, my wife and I get out of eating these things far exceeds the enjoyment we would get out of saving the rather small amount of money by purchasing cheaper and less quality options.  We never go out to eat and, honestly, I would take that homemade meal any day over a restaurant steak.  It’s ten times more delicious and at least half as cheap.  Not to mention that since I started dieting, I eat less and now a $10-15 pack of steaks stretches across four servings, where it used to be two.

Is there anything you buy that, while pricier than other options, you have no shame in continuing to do so?

-Frugal RN

Update 3/9/16:  see Guiltless Pleasures (part 2) for more information on this topic 🙂

Anonymity

Why do many of us choose to remain anonymous in the blogging world, especially when it comes to plans of early retirement?  Is it the fear of bosses and employers finding out about those plans?  Is it the fear of being treated differently, as an outsider, who is no longer part of “the team”?  Treated as though you are now expendable?

I am fortunate enough that I do not fear these things; rather, I just enjoy being faceless at this point in time.  Many of my coworkers are aware of my family’s financial goals and I am always open to discussing personal finance with anyone at anytime.  In fact, I have had several amazing conversations with my coworkers about not only my family’s plans but also their perspective on things, as well.

I do intend to reveal myself at some point in the potentially not-so-distant future…maybe after my braces come off and I reach my weight-loss goals in a few months?  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll just keep up the anonymity for awhile?

That’s not me!

My wife and I have had a general rule that we don’t share pictures of our son in the online world; this even includes with our family via Facebook…the horror!  I know!!  Our view is this:  the ease with which images can be copied, saved, and otherwise done who-knows-what-with doesn’t make us jump at the idea of having our son’s images floating around in cyberspace.  Maybe this is some strange  paranoia but he’s our innocent little guy and its just what we choose to do for now.  And please don’t take this as judgment if you choose to share.  We aren’t here to judge and we completely respect your choices as fellow parents.

I’m curious to hear from both sides of this fence on this one.  Why do you choose to share…or not share…your and/or your family’s face and true identity?  Also, if you don’t currently identify yourself, do you intend to do so?  If so, when?  What’s holding you up?

 

-Frugal RN

Where did all the money go?

In response to this January post by Mr. Fire Station, I pulled out my old tax returns and, amazingly enough, actually have all of them going back to my first job sacking groceries at sixteen years old in 2003.  In true math-nerd fashion, I plotted it all out on a Excel spreadsheet and figured up that I have grossed $349,318 in my working life!  I literally had no idea that so much money has passed through my slippery fingers!

You know you remember Duck Tales! 🙂

The breakdown between the “stages” of my working life:

  • 6% during my high school days (3 years)
  • 17% following high school (I got an associates degree that I do not utilize and eventually went back to school to obtain my bachelors in nursing – 4 years)
  • 11% during university days (3 years)
  • 66% since graduating in May 2013 and started my nursing career in July 2013 (approximately 2.5 years)

My investment accounts currently sit at approximately $29,000; that is 8.3% in relation to my total grossed income (unfortunately, I’m not sure what my total net income has been.)  Throughout high school, I regret to say that I didn’t invest/save a single penny.  It wasn’t until 2007, when I started working at Walmart, during my time in junior college, that I invested $1,450 in Walmart stock through payroll deduction.  I sold it within the year to pay some bills while attempting to sell insurance for a few months.  After that, it wasn’t until 2012-2013 that I started investing again while working as a Certified Nurse’s Aide and attending nursing school.  While my investment records are incomplete, it appears I had a little over $2000 at that point.  Therefore, the majority of my investing has come about in the past 2-3 years, bringing me to where I sit now.  Over the next couple years, that percentage will actually decrease as my investing is at a crawl right now as we pay off our debt.  However, our overall net worth will increase as our debt disappears so it still works out in our favor!

So I can’t help but wonder where all of that money has gone over the years…

Obviously, there has been plenty of wasteful spending throughout the years.  However, there has also been a ton of priceless memories with my wife tied to the outgoing of that money, as well, of which I would never take back for all the money in the world.  As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20, and it’s easy to think about what sort of financial situation we could be in if at least some of that money would’ve been utilized differently. Bright Future #Sunglasses #quote: Inspiring Quotes, Bulletin Board, Bright Future, Inspirational Quotes, Funny Quotes, Funny Stuff, 5Th Grade, Favorite Quotes, Classroom Ideas However, I choose to not dwell on my past financial blunders and frivolous spending and, instead, look forward to the bright and prosperous future before us.

Have you completed this or a similar calculation?  If you’re comfortable in doing so, please feel free to share your story in the comments below…or in a post of your own and ping back to this and Mr. Fire Station’s article.  Also, if you’re not already one of my amazing followers, don’t forget to follow along with our family as we make our way towards debt freedom, financial independence, and ultimately early retirement.  We’d love to have you along for the ride, get to know you, and learn from you along the way!  Have an awesome day!

-Frugal RN

2016 Goals: January Update (abridged)

For those of you who do not wish to read the long drawn out version of my January update, I completely understand…here is the condensed version:

GOALS FOR 2016

  1. CMSRN credential
    1. I have read two chapters of my study book; minimal progress achieved.
  2. Pay off at least $20,000 of debt.
    1. Paid off $2,233 this month!!!  11% of $20,000 goal achieved!   😀
  3. Weight loss:  weigh 200 pounds by the end of February and 185 by the end of April – monitoring with weekly weigh-ins
    1. Weekly weigh-ins completed: as of this morning, I have lost 11.2 pounds (5.2%) and 3.5 inches (8.3%) off my gut!  I’m extremely proud of this first month’s results and am on track to reach my goals!! 🙂
  4. Increased meal planning with eMeals
    1. Much improved in this category; drastic improvement in variety of meals and greatly increased our intake of fruits and vegetables. Will continue on as currently doing.
  5. Month-to-month junk food buying ban
    1. Going awesome! Didn’t buy any junk this month- will continue this buying ban.
  6. Decreased soda :  $24 = 3 cases/month
    1. Did well in this category – had three sodas remaining at end of month
  7. Using our treadmill for at least 20 minutes per day when I am off work
    1. Going very well in this category; began incorporating a few days worth of C25K app use; will continue as currently doing.
  8. Improved planning and crop yield from the garden
    1. Purchased seeds and ordered tomato and bell pepper plant starts, which will ship at appropriate planting time; still have to plot out where things will be planted.
  9. Read a minimum of 5 books in 2016
    1. Completed Glen Beck’s Agenda 21; now I’m two-thirds of the way through James Patterson’s Along Came a Spider
  10. Increased personal time and appreciation for my wonderful and loving wife, who is the greatest momma I could ever hope to have for our amazing son.
    1. My wife’s birthday was the 31st.  Feel free to swing by her website, Love, Laughter, & a Splash of Lunacy, and wish her a happy belated birthday!  Our son and I made some homemade cards, which she loved, of course! And she got exactly what she wanted for her birthday: we she repainted our bathroom. The yellow we painted this past summer has been wreaking havoc on her eye floaters so she finally decided she wanted to paint it a shade of grey.

All-in-all, I am extremely pleased with our progress through the end of January.  The number one category that needs work is with regards to my wife, whom I will never be able to express my appreciation for because it knows no bounds.  She is wonderful and deserves more than I could ever possibly “give” her!

So how are things going with your goals?  Where are you excelling and where do you find yourself struggling?  More importantly, if you’re struggling in any particular area, why do you believe this is happening and what do you intend to do about it?  Let me know in the comments below!

Also, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so that you can follow along on my family’s journey toward financial independence.  We would love to have you along for the ride and would love even more to have the opportunity to talk with and get to know you! 🙂

-Frugal RN and Family

2016 Goals: January Update

Please feel free to check out the Abridged version of this post.  You're welcome! :-)

GOALS FOR 2016
1.  CMSRN credential
2.  Pay off at least $20,000 of debt.
3.  Weight loss:  weigh 200 pounds by the end of February and 185 by the end of April – monitoring with weekly weigh-ins
4.  Increased meal planning with eMeals
5.  Month-to-month junk food buying ban
6.  Decreased soda :  $24 = 3 cases/month to ZERO
7.  Using our treadmill for at least 20 minutes per day when I am off work
8.  Improved planning and crop yield from the garden
9.  Read a minimum of 5 books in 2016
10.  Increased personal time and appreciation for my wonderful and loving wife, who is the greatest momma I could ever hope to have for our amazing son.

Progress through the month of January:

  1.  I haven’t started studying yet so no progress to report on this one yet.
  2. We paid off $2,233 this month!!! (Jeep + wife’s student loans + credit card)
    1. While I would obviously like this number to be higher, we have chosen to continue contributing to our son’s Coverdell ESA, even while paying off our debt.  Since we haven’t contributed the funds for 2015, we have to do that before filing our taxes.  We deposited $1000 of the maximum $2000 into the account this month and will finish it off over my next one-to-two paychecks.
    2. Progress of goal to pay off at least $20,000 in 2016 –>  11% so far!
    3. Also of note, but not counted towards our debt-paying goal for the year, I received my second Loan Repayment disbursement.  This was a nice deposit of $18,164…of which I sent off a little over $14,000, paying a nice chunk toward my federal loans and, more importantly, we paid off my private loans from Wells Fargo!  DEUCES!!!
      1. This is another automated budget action that I implemented.  I have a separate account for my loan repayment money to deposit in; then I send off a big chunk and hold on to enough for auto-debited monthly payments to get me to my next disbursement.  This way, it allows for easy payment verification that is required prior to next year and it allows me to focus my paychecks toward other debt.
  3. Loss of 11.2 pounds and 3.5 inches this month!!!
    1. Super proud of these results thus far.  No signs of turning back as we have gone the entire month without purchasing any processed sugary foods.  We have even resisted my wife making her incredible brownies or chocolate chip cookies and I haven’t made banana bread, despite the abundance of available bananas we have been keeping, along with apples, oranges, and pineapples.  We have also found Yoplait Greek Yogurt with strawberries to be quite good at curbing the occasional sweet tooth, as well.
      1. FYI…an incredibly delicious and healthy breakfast I have been eating a lot is to take 2-3 egg whites, including one yolk, and scrambling it up with a mushed up banana, add a little vanilla and cinnamon, and then cook it up like scrambled eggs.  I even like to drizzle a little sugar-free pancake syrup over it.  For any Weight Watcher Points followers out there, this breakfast is only 3 points and I find it to be very filling.
      2. Product Details       Product Details  These two things are my best friends in the weight-loss department.  Based on your age, sex, height, current weight, and goal of gaining, losing, or maintaining your weight, it tells you how many “points” you’re allotted to eat for the day.  Points-per-serving are calculated based on grams of fat, carbs, fiber, and protein.  It’s simple to use and gives me perspective on portion control.  The nice part is that fruit and most vegetables do not count towards your daily points in order to encourage more consumption of these things because they help you feel fuller longer than simple carbs.
  4. We have remarkably improved our variety of fruits, vegetables, and foods.  eMeals is going well and provides us with recipes, some of which we have followed, while others we have made some modifications to.  So far, we haven’t had any bad experiences and enjoy the fact that you can change back-and-forth between types of recipes (i.e. there are multiple categories such as “Crock Pot Meals,” “Low Carb,” “Portion Control,” etc.)  We have been using our Crock Pot a lot more.  It’s incredibly easy to get it going in the mornings when I get home from work and then it’s ready to eat by the time I’m up about six hours later.  One of our favorites is cooking a whole chicken with nothing more than a little Lawry’s seasoning salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.  It’s delicious as is and is incredibly versatile for multiple meals, including homemade pizza, in wraps, on salads, and can be used in several eMeal recipes that often call for deli rotisserie chicken.
    1. If you haven’t heard of eMeals before, I encourage you to check out their website (that is NOT an affiliate link…it just saves you from typing out the address :-D.)  You can sign up for a FREE two-week trial to see if it’s something you find helpful.  It has helped us get out of a terrible food rut of having the same few meals over and over and over.  We have also found it helpful to print out a blank calendar and write out our meal plan.  This saves time and energy figuring out what to make.  If you subscribe to the service, they also have an excellent app that allows you to check out the recipes (which come to your email every Wednesday) and save the ones you want to make; when you add the recipes you want to make, it puts all the ingredients required into a shopping cart, creating a shopping list that you can check off as you go.  We find the list to be a little disorganized and, therefore, hand-write the list in an order that fits the store we shop in but it’s still an excellent resource.
  5. As noted above, we have stuck to our junk-food-buying ban and have eaten ZERO processed sugars in January!  I’ve even done well and resisted the often available temptations that my coworkers bring to work, choosing to eat the fruit I bring to work instead.  We are feeling awesome and have no desire to go back.
  6. Improved with a noticeably decreased consumption of soda:  $24 dollars purchased 76 sodas.  My wife drinks very few anyway so the vast majority of these were drank by me.  While I know that soda is a complete waste of money, I enjoy them and now find myself liking them even more when I consider them more of an occasional treat, as opposed to drinking them at will like I was.  As of the last day of the month, three sodas remained from this purchase.  We purchased February’s stash on 1/29; our closest full-size grocer is about 50 miles away so we did our grocery shopping while we were in town taking our son to get his round of vaccinations.
  7. I’ve done very well with spending at least 20 minutes per day off work on the treadmill.  I did one week of Yoga, which feels incredible and I definitely intend to incorporate this activity into my life; however, that particular week I only lost about 1/2 pound so, for now, I will focus on utilizing the treadmill until I begin getting closer to my ultimate weight-loss goal.  I have also started using the app, C25K, and have completed four days worth.
  8. I ordered seeds and pre-ordered some tomato and pepper plants for the garden but haven’t mapped out exactly what the garden will look like just yet.  We’ve got several inches of snow and ice on the ground so there’s nothing to be done outside for now.  I don’t have any supplies for indoor seed starting and, due to the terrible positioning of our house (i.e. there are ZERO south facing windows,) I have no decent spot to do so anyway.
  9. 1 book down:  Glenn Beck’s Agenda 21 – excellent fictional story about the extremes that could theoretically result from the United Nation’s Agenda 21, a real thing that I intend to do further research on.  It was a rather quick read, full of emotion and suspense.  I will have to get the sequel, Agenda 21:  Into the Shadows, that was recently released in September.  Now I am working on another fictional novel, James Patterson’s Along Came A Spider.  It is the first in the series introducing Patterson’s hero Alex Cross.  As of your reading this, I am about 2/3 of the way through the book and it is extremely good.  I also have the second book in the series, Kiss the Girls, and will continue on with it.  I got the books from dad, who I believe has every book in the series so if I enjoy these, I will have to get the rest from him the next time we make a trip home.
  10. My wife’s birthday was on the 31st.  Feel free to swing by her website, Love, Laughter, & a Splash of Lunacy, and wish her a happy belated birthday!  Our son and I made her a sweet homemade card with his hand print on it, which she loved, of course!  I also made her a homemade card, which I have done for nearly every birthday and anniversary we have celebrated to date.  While she did not receive any physical gifts from me, she got exactly what she asked for…we repainted our bathroom!

All-in-all, I am extremely pleased with our progress through the end of January.  The number one category that needs work is with regards to my wife, whom I will never be able to express my appreciation for because it knows no bounds.  She is wonderful and deserves more than I could ever possibly “give” her!

So how are things going with your goals?  Where are you excelling and where do you find yourself struggling?  More importantly, if you’re struggling in any particular area, why do you believe this is happening and what do you intend to do about it?  Let me know in the comments below!

Also, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so that you can follow along on my family’s journey toward financial independence.  We would love to have you along for the ride and would love even more to have the opportunity to talk with and get to know you! 🙂

-Frugal RN and Family