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:
Outstanding Consumer Information:
Outstanding Educational Program:
MFLN Personal Finance Webinars
Financial Counselor of the Year Award:
Outstanding Conference Paper Award:
Retirement Saving and the Use of Financial Software
Qianwen (Rachel) Bi
Outstanding Research Journal Article of the Year:
Credit Card Behavior as a Function of Impulsivity and Mother’s Socialization Factors
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.
“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.
I 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.
Member Spotlight: Cherie Stueve, MBA, CPA (Inactive), AFC® is currently a PhD Student in the Personal Financial Planning Program at Kansas State University. She was a 2011 recipient of the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship program. Below Cherie shares with us how she transitioned into the field of financial counseling, her experiences in the Military Spouse Fellowship program and her goals for the future.
How did you first learn about the Military Spouse Fellowship program and what inspired you to apply?
Another Coast Guard spouse in the program recommended the Fellowship. I had recently attended a financial counselor training workshop and was looking for my next step to shift my career from accounting. I believe in the education, experience and endorsement that professional accreditations represent so the AFC® was in perfect alignment.
Share with us some of the work you did for your practicum hours or an experience that you found inspiring.
I wanted to help military families and that is the goal of the Fellowship program. I enjoyed creating and delivering a 5-part workshop series for a large Coast Guard unit in California. The senior enlisted service members really opened up about their past money mistakes and were surprisingly emotional when encouraging the younger service members not to make the same mistakes regarding credit cards, overpriced cars and waiting to participate in the Thrift Savings Program (TSP). Creating an environment where these members felt safe to share added to the impact of the workshop.
I have been a Mentor with the Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc. HOPE program (Helping Ourselves Prosper Economically) since 2012. Meeting with HOPE families routinely for an entire year to build their financial capability continues to be one of my favorite volunteer activities.
You have a strong foundation of financial knowledge through your education in accounting and the AFC program. Now you are a PhD student in the Personal Financial Planning Program at Kansas State University. Is there an area of research you are focusing on?
The K-State program is designed to give students opportunities to partner with faculty on a variety of topics in both quantitative and qualitative methods. I have a wide range of interests but have started to narrow it down for my dissertation.
My broad concept is the decision-making process of parents when they transfer (or not transfer) financial assets to their young adult children. Some working parents struggle with balancing their own needs and wanting to assist their adult children in their 20s and 30s. Then the question becomes how to keep peace in the family when one child has different needs than another. I believe this is a relevant and fascinating topic to explore.
What do you hope to do with your education and experience upon graduation?
That’s the million dollar question! Everything! I love the one-on-one dynamic of financial counseling. I want to teach at the college level and put all these new research skills to use. I feel the opportunities are endless, especially as the fields of financial counseling and financial therapy continue to evolve. This is an exciting time to be involved in the personal finance arena.
You’re planning to attend the 2014 Annual Symposium again this November. As a repeat attendee, what are you looking forward to the most?
The AFCPE Symposium is a wonderful mix of practitioners, educators and researchers – as both attendees and presenters. Where else would I be able to meet so many of the researchers I am studying in my K-State program? In addition, I enjoy the face-to-face time with other FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellows that I correspond with online during the year.
If you are interested in connecting with Cherie around her research or her experiences as a Military Spouse Fellow, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a Member of AFCPE and would like to share your work in the field or network with other members, email email@example.com.
Should I save money or pay down debt? Should I pay for my child’s education or save for retirement? Should I pay down my student loans or build my savings? These are valid questions, as many of us have multiple savings and debt repayment goals to achieve at the same time. Figuring out how to prioritize them can be a struggle.
The good news is that in most cases, the answer to these questions is the same: DO BOTH. A recent Boston Globe article discussed savings strategies for every age and touched on situations where multiple goals commonly arise including:
Paying Down Student Debt vs. Saving for Retirement
Young and first-time workers may want to pay down their student debt as fast as possible. And paying down debt is a good thing. But, if these workers are not also saving for retirement, they are missing out on some of the most important years to save. Because of the miracle of compound interest, money saved for retirement in your 20’s grows more than money saved later. Contribute at least enough money to get a company match while you continue to pay at least the minimum payment on student loans.
Buying a House vs. Saving for Retirement
Workers in their 30’s and 40’s may be tempted to cash out their retirement saving accounts to buy their first home. But this could be detrimental to their retirement savings. Don’t touch your retirement savings to buy a home. Instead save a portion of your pay in addition to saving for retirement.
Saving for Your Childs College vs. Saving for Retirement
Parents want to provide the best for their children. Saving money for your child’s education will help them avoid taking out large loans they will need to pay back later. But don’t forgo retirement saving and only save for education. Research lower-cost schools, find free money for schools, and continue to save for retirement. Remember, you can apply for grants and scholarships – or take out student loans, if your savings doesn’t quite cover the costs – but these options are not available for retirement.
Get Started During National Save for Retirement Week, October 19-25, 2014
National Save for Retirement Week is an opportunity for employers to make employees aware of how critical it is to save now for their financial future, promote the benefits of saving for retirement, and encourage employees to take full advantage of their employer-sponsored plans by starting or increasing their contributions. Encourage your employer to participate and learn more at http://www.nagdca.org/dnn/NewsEvents/NS4RW.aspx
Katie Bryan works for America Saves, managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. Learn more at americasaves.org.
Member Spotlight: Dr. Michael Gutter is an Associate Professor for the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences at the University of Florida. He earned his BS in Family Financial Management and his PhD in Family Resource Management from The Ohio State University with a specialization in Finance. A longtime Member and current Board Member of AFCPE, Dr. Gutter will assume the role of Board President in 2015.
Your research, teaching and outreach are all focused around one common goal – helping families achieve financial security. What inspired you to take this path in your career?
I grew up in a household with very limited resources. My parents were extremely hard working but fell on tough times for many reasons beyond their control. Despite their best efforts this took its toll on my brother and me as well.
When I learned of a financial management degree in college, I became intrigued. The more I learned, the more passionate I became about helping other families to make better decisions, arm themselves for the unexpected, and prepare for the future.
Tell us a little about your current research project. What is inspiring you right now?
Currently I am working with the NC 2172 multistate research team consisting of researchers across the country focusing on “Behavioral economics and financial decision-making and information management across the lifespan.”This project was developed with a goal to better understand consumer financial decision-making across the lifespan. How consumers process information and make decisions regarding housing (rent vs. buy & mortgage), post-secondary education financing, and Social Security retirement will be examined.
The importance of this project is to address the problem of consumer decision-making in an increasingly complicated financial world. Simply providing consumers with information and education are necessary steps, yet not sufficient to address the larger problem.
As someone who wears “multiple hats,” what do you find most fulfilling in your career?
I find the mentoring of students and junior faculty to be an amazing experience. Watching them blossom into future stars of industry and research has been the highlight of my work, in addition to the impact my own efforts have made in peoples’ lives.
You are currently serving on AFCPE’s Board of Directors and next year will step into the role as President of the Board. What are you most proud of during your time on the Board and what are you most excited about during your term as President
AFCPE has been at the forefront of financial education and counseling helping to shape the industry. I am very excited to be working with members and stakeholders to help build the future of financial education and counseling. I look forward to being a steward of that energy and dedication as we work together to move this field forward continuing to inform practice through state of the art research.
If you are interested in learning more, Dr. Gutter’s research will be featured in three poster sessions at the 2014 AFCPE Research & Training Symposium in Bellevue, Washington this November. Mike can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow his regular tweets on personal finance under @mikegutter on Twitter.