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AFCPE Membership Spotlight: Sharon Cabeen

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2014 Recipient of the AFCPE® Celia Ray Hayhoe Distinguished Fellow Award

This year, AFCPE was proud to recognize Sharon Cabeen as the recipient of the Distinguished Fellow Award. The honor goes to a colleague who deserves our greatest recognition for his or her significant and long-lasting contributions to AFCPE and to the field. It also must represent someone who exhibits the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct. This is Sharon Cabeen.

Sharon has spent 10 years serving AFCPE in a variety of capacities, including: Chairperson of the Member Services Committee; member of the Strategic Planning Committee; and an officer of the Board and Executive Board as President and Past President.

A fellow colleague fondly recalls, “Once Sharon joined our team, her passion and mission to assist consumers in better managing their finances was obvious. Although our organization’s focus is on the student — that is, student access, retention and student loan debt — she has helped us, and others in the higher education industry, realize that our contributions are a small part of the bigger picture, which she refers to as ‘The Farm’.”

The Farm is an analogy that Sharon uses to describe the world of finances. The silos on the farm are the different components of the big financial picture, including student loans, credit, spending, etc. With more than 35 years of experience – 25 years in credit counseling management and financial education and 10 years in the student loan industry – Sharon has devoted much of her career to building a bridge between the industry’s silos.

As a result of her efforts, professionals in each silo have retained and shared knowledge invaluable to one another. Student loan counselors have experience in the complex world of the FAFSA and student loan repayment, while AFCs are equipped to discuss multiple debt types and help consumers develop spending plans that align with their personal values and financial goals. Sharon has used her leadership to open the eyes of both industries and to realize the importance of collaboration.

Sharon is the creator of two different financial literacy programs that are being used today by two different organizations. Thanks to Sharon, there has been an increase in AFC® certifications as well as AFCPE memberships from student financial aid professionals, lenders and guarantors across the country. Because of her, scholarships were created for student financial aid professionals to enroll in the AFC program and student financial aid experts are now attending and submitting proposals for conference presentations and increasing the network of knowledge amongst AFCPE’s membership. And through her leadership, financial aid offices are now creating positions devoted to financial literacy on college campuses across the country with a focus on a holistic approach to student aid.

The bridge is being built. AFCPE Staff, Board and Members agree – it has been, and continues to be, an honor to learn from Sharon and work together toward her vision of the perfect farm.

December 18, 2014 at 9:35 pm, by admin | No Comments | Category General


Are You Prepared to Address the Unique Financial Needs of People with Disabilities?

MM_HeadshotAs the nation’s first nonprofit exclusively dedicated to improving the financial health and future for people with disabilities, National Disability Institute (NDI) has been the leader working at the intersection of the disability and asset development communities. What once started in the basement of a local D.C. bank has now expanded north, south, east and west, with footholds in 35 states across the country and growing. Indeed, much progress has been made, but much more work lies ahead.

Currently, there are more than 54 million Americans living with a disability, nearly 1 in 3 of which live in poverty. What can be done to help?

One way is by ensuring more service providers, including financial counselors, have the necessary tools to address the unique financial challenges of people with disabilities. In that spirit, NDI and the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® (AFCPE®) joined together to create a three part webinar series to provide financial professionals with education around the Americans with Disabilities Act, discuss the variety of available public benefits and community resources, and connect disability service providers and their clients to financial professionals in their local community. The series has been a tremendous success and highlighted the transformative effect each and every financial counselor, and all those involved in financial planning, can have on the lives of people with disabilities.

So, what can you do to help? Join us!

If you are a financial counselor and want to learn how you can better serve people with disabilities, there is still time to register for the final webinar. Scheduled for Wednesday, December 3, 2014, from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM, part three of the webinar series will provide an overview of the disability service system to help connect your clients with in the local community. In addition, you will learn about strategies to increase outreach to the disability community and on best practices to build the collaboration between financial counseling/coaching programs and the disability community. To sign up for the webinar, please click here to visit the registration page.

Financial counselors are a trusted source of advice and help to countless Americans, and NDI and AFCPE are working to make sure that includes people with disabilities. We’d love to have you on board!

National Disability Institute (NDI) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to building a better economic future for people with disabilities. The first national organization committed exclusively to championing economic empowerment, financial education, asset development and financial stability for all persons with disabilities, NDI affects change through public education, policy development, training, technical assistance and innovative initiatives. NDI and its Real Economic Impact (REI) Network have helped more than 2.3 million people with disabilities receive nearly $2.3 billion in tax refunds and credits. To learn more, visit www.realeconomicimpact.org. Engage with NDI on Facebook: RealEconImpact or follow NDI on Twitter: @RealEconImpact

Michael Morris is the Executive Director of the National Disability Institute (NDI) in Washington, DC. Morris has over 30 years of experience in and outside of government pioneering new strategies to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Morris serves as an advisor and technical expert to multiple federal agencies on policy and systems relationships at federal, state, and local levels to advance economic stability, mobility, and asset development for persons with disabilities.

November 22, 2014 at 2:46 pm, by admin | No Comments | Category financial education, General


Serving Those Who Served

“Every day, our military families at home and abroad inspire us and remind us of our obligation to take care of those who do so much for our country.  As a grateful Nation, we pay tribute to the women and men who have made our military the finest fighting force the world has ever known, and we honor the enduring strength and dedication of their families.”

~President Barack Obama

Happy Veterans Day! AFCPE® extends our heartfelt gratitude to the brave men and women who have chosen to serve our country and preserve our freedom; to the military families who support our troops with unwavering love and strength; and to the Accredited Financial Counselors (AFC®), AFCPE Members and FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellows who continue to serve this nation by providing financial education and counseling to military families and veterans.

In honor of Veterans Day, AFCPE would like to recognize the great work of our Partners and our AFC Professionals, by providing a list of resources available for our service members and our veterans:

Better Business Bureau Military Line – Since 2004, BBB Military Line has provided free resources to military communities in the areas of financial literacy and consumer protection through the efforts of 112 BBBs across the U.S.

Military Saves – An educational campaign of the non-profit organization, America Saves, Military Saves seeks to motivate, support and encourage military families to save money, reduce debt and build wealth.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – The CFPB has tools and resources available specifically for service members, with guidance on how to plan for the future and protect your finances.

FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program – The FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program gives military spouses the opportunity to earn a career-enhancing credential—the Accredited Financial Counselor® certificate—while providing financial counseling and education to the military community.

AmEx Serve – We are working with American Express to design a financial readiness program for transitioning service members, veterans and their families. Visit the Spent Documentary site for access to resources and ways that you can take action to support this important cause.

Veterans Financial Coalition –a diverse group of organizations with the shared goal of serving the financial education and consumer protection needs of veterans. The coalition’s mission is to assist and promote resources to a growing population of veterans, provide financial education for veterans and community organizations serving veterans, and raise awareness of the unique financial challenges our nation’s veterans face.

Through our certification programs and professional partnerships, AFCPE is working tirelessly to ensure that all Americans have equal access to financial education and trustworthy professionals. We remain committed to improving the economic wellbeing of individuals and families worldwide, especially for those who have scarified so much for our freedom.

November 11, 2014 at 10:16 am, by admin | No Comments | Category financial education, General, military


2014 AFCPE® Award Winners Announced!

AFCPE members are the people who really make things happen – they create policy, do the research, develop programs and work with people who need their expertise.
~Longtime AFCPE Member, Syble Solomon

The AFCPE Board and Staff look forward to many aspects of the Annual Research & Training Symposium. We look forward to catching up with old friends and colleagues, to meeting new leaders and up-and-comers in the field, to expanding our knowledge through an incredible line up of speakers and sessions…the list goes on and on. But the one constant we eagerly await time and again is our Awards Luncheon, held each year on the final Friday of the symposium.

What makes the AFCPE awards so unique is that they are peer nominated and peer reviewed. Each year AFCPE members nominate their fellow members, peers and colleagues who are doing great work in education, research and practice. And this year, we are pleased to announce that the 2014 nominees and award recipients truly represent the breadth and depth of the great work being done in the field.

We invite you to join us this November when we recognize and celebrate the following 2014 AFCPE Award Recipients for their achievements:

Mary Ellen Edmondson Educator of the Year:
Alena Johnson

Outstanding Consumer Information:
Rita Green

Outstanding Educational Program:
MFLN Personal Finance Webinars
Michael Gutter
Molly Herndon
Barbara O’Neill

Financial Counselor of the Year Award:
Madeline Greene

Outstanding Conference Paper Award:
Retirement Saving and the Use of Financial Software
Qianwen (Rachel) Bi
Sandra Huston

Outstanding Research Journal Article of the Year:
Credit Card Behavior as a Function of Impulsivity and Mother’s Socialization Factors
Justin Henegark
Kristy Archuleta
John Grable
Sonya Britt
NaRita Anderson
Anita Dale

Thank you to all the AFCPE members who submitted nominations for this year’s awards, to our Awards Task Force and reviewers for your time and commitment to the awards process, and to our nominees and recipients for the good work you are doing to advance the field!

And to those of you joining us in Bellevue this November, we have one more award that will be announced live at the Symposium. Stay tuned for the recipient of the esteemed Distinguished Fellow Award – an honor that recognizes the significant and long-lasting contributions that one of our members has made to AFCPE over the organization’s history.

October 28, 2014 at 12:04 pm, by admin | No Comments | Category General, Symposium


The Role of Smart Phones in Financial Education

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”

In other words, we learn the most by doing.

Up until now, most financial education has attempted to “tell” or “teach”.  Even in today’s digital world, financial literacy has mostly consisted of transposing to computer screens the content of courses and books about managing money. Video tutorials are more entertaining than text and can replicate some of the experience of a physical classroom, but they are still a one-way teaching method.

Some have ventured into the world of interactive games, all the way to letting players navigate inside 3D virtual worlds.  Role playing can let users manage some fictitious wealth, pretty much like the game of Monopoly. However, these games do not get you involved in managing your actual finances.

Budgeting tools like Mint or Money Desktop do connect to your actual money by reading information out of your bank accounts and credit cards. However, they remain separate from the online management access that your bank may have given you, so they duplicate some of the functions while not allowing you to actually initiate any movement of money.

abstract finger touch phone drawn with chalk on blackboardI believe that the holy grail of efficient financial education is going to be smartphone apps that combine financial guidance and budgeting with the full management of your money into a single application.

GoBank is an example of bundling budgeting with full access to a payment card within a single app. It is currently limited to one single payment instrument, so it does not help you manage other bank accounts or cards, but it is a promising first step.

Smartphones and tablets will replace laptop and desktop computers very soon as the mass medium of choice to reach consumers. An application on a mobile device allows financial education to be actionable: you can move money into your savings account or suspend one of your credit cards immediately, as you receive the advice to do so.

Smartphone apps also support the most efficient way to communicate with consumers: mobile push alerts. Have you noticed that certain apps will display alerts on the home screen of your phone, even if the application is not active and running? This is because you authorized the application to send you alerts when you installed it for the first time on your phone or tablet.

Here is an example of how mobile alerts can be used by a financial guidance application linked to a credit card:

Alicia is a 24 year-old sales assistant in a department store and just got her first credit card with a $1,000 line of credit last week. She received a message on her smartphone to congratulate her when she activated the card. That message also advised her not to use the card to “consume” but only to pay for things that she already has to pay, like bills. Alas, she could not resist a trip to the electronics store over the weekend to buy one of the 42” fat screen TVs that was on sale for $499. On Monday, during her lunch break, she receives a new message on her smartphone which starts with “Alicia, you could do better than that. You have just used up half of your line of credit in one single transaction…”. When she clicks on the message, she is advised to stop using her card for the rest of the month and prepare to pay at least 70% of the card balance when the bill will come at the end of the month. The application also offers her the option to avoid further temptation by putting her card on hold until the end of the month.

The mobile application described above does not exist yet. But all the components required to build it are available today; so expect to see very soon the advent of just-in-time, actionable financial guidance delivered to consumers through their mobile devices.

Patrice Peyret is the co-founder and CEO of Banking Up, an online and mobile financial services company, providing businesses, banks and their consumers with smart, technology-forward personal finance products. Banking Up’s vision is that everyone deserves good everyday banking services no matter their level of income, age, education and bankability. AFCPE Executive Director met Patrice at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) this past June and invited him to share his vision with our readers.

October 23, 2014 at 9:58 am, by admin | No Comments | Category financial education, General, technology