AFC Student Blog Series Part 5

It’s understandable that many of us do not like to engage in estate planning—it can be a little overwhelming. However, it is important to “nip it in the bud” and start the preparation early so that when the unfortunate time comes, there is a reduction of conflict and a smoother process for all involved.

Studying for the AFC® has helped me realize the importance of this topic and all that needs to be done to settle an estate in advance. I, myself, plan on having an estate one day, don’t you? If not, you will likely have clients with estates – and as an AFC, I hope to practice financial counseling and planning with people from all levels of wealth.

In a nutshell, the AFC provides me with the skills that so many people want to attain but, either due to lack of time or of knowledge, they fall short in organizing their finances.   This makes me a valuable resource to them and gives me the opportunity to make a living out of helping others.

The sky is the limit for me and it can be for you too!

Nadia Marquez, Master of Science Student in Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University
AFC® University program student

May 2, 2014 at 11:10 am, by admin | No Comments | Category General

AFC Student Blog Series Part 4

As I progress in my studies for the AFC®, I realize just how valuable a budget is and that it really is the foundation to having your finances in order.

This is especially evident as I read through the chapter focused on investments. In order to invest, I need to accumulate the money, which starts by adjusting my budget based on my current lifestyle and goals.

This brings up the idea of opportunity costs, and an important question: what am I willing to do without so that I can realize my financial goals? Perhaps that question gets you thinking about what is most important in your life now and in the future. This is also important because one must know where they are now (point A) in order to reach point B.

As I read through this chapter, I find myself going back over my budget and making necessary adjustments as I learn creative strategies that will make my money grow. I also found helpful links to compare interest rates, such as This helps me determine which strategy suits me best.

As a result of preparing for certification exams, I am indirectly managing my personal finances and have increased my level of confidence.

I cannot emphasize enough how easy it is to gain control of your financial situation with proper education, provided in tangible, logical steps. Studying for the AFC turns what feels like an impossible task into a very rewarding experience. Becoming an AFC takes away the intimidation that comes with dealing with your own finances, and that of others.

Nadia Marquez, Master of Science Student in Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University
AFC® University program student

April 25, 2014 at 7:41 am, by admin | No Comments | Category General

AFCPE Symposium: Value to Education and Career

As I have pursued degrees in Personal Financial Planning, first from the University of Missouri and now from Texas Tech University, each fall I have made an effort to go to at least one of a variety of conferences.  It was always a balancing act between getting out to meet professionals in different areas of the industry and figuring out how to fund my travel.  Last fall I was unexpectedly awarded a scholarship to attend the AFCPE Annual Symposium.

I had been to other conferences and expected to have a very similar experience: good but not life changing.  What I found was a different environment with an energy and focus that resonated with me and my career goals.   I found myself surrounded with professionals that were working in an area I had been told was difficult to break into and even impossible to make a living.  I was able to network with people that had been through the process of finding a career in Financial Counseling and had answers to my questions.  The relationships I developed during those few days have lasted beyond the symposium as I have had continued communication with several people, including discussions about potential job opportunities.

While the Symposium in general was a great experience, one of the highlights was the President’s reception – a casual, relaxed, evening event after the normal sessions of the day.  During that reception I was able to meet with present and past board members of the association and get to know them on more of a personal basis.  I gained valuable perspective into the career field and different ways I could go about building my career.  What stuck out most was that everyone was genuinely interested in me and my career goals and openly offered advice to assist me on that path.

What I had expected from the scholarship was an expense paid trip to a conference.  What I got was an experience that changed the trajectory of my career.  I will forever be grateful for that scholarship which provided much more value than simply the dollars that paid my way.

Thomas A. Duffany III, M.S. Candidate, Personal Financial Planning, Texas Tech University

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April 24, 2014 at 12:36 pm, by admin | No Comments | Category General

AFC Student Blog Series Part 3

I enjoy studying for the AFC® because so many topics hit close to home. My reading is constantly distracted because I am looking over my bank account and credit card statements to make sure my debt is under control. My favorite tool so far from the text is the credit utilization ratio. It indicates if I am nearing serious debt or not with my credit card. Fortunately my debt is under control based on the table in the book.

The information I am learning is so applicable and beneficial to real life issues which makes it that much easier to absorb the information. I encourage others to pursue the AFC designation because you not only learn about your own financial situation, but you can also help others to get on track with their finances.

It is so exciting to me that I can make sense of my finances and do the same for others. The material is easy to learn because the jargon is broken down to everyday language and shows the steps involved in the math, and the concept behind the numbers.

Overall, I would rather know the truth of where I stand with my finances than to avoid knowing. Avoidance is actually a symptom of carrying on too much debt, as the textbook explains. Like so many things in life, the imagination tends to blow an issue out of proportion. When the math is done, it really isn’t as bad as it seemed.

Wouldn’t you want to know your own financial truth rather than fearing it?

Nadia Marquez, Master of Science Student in Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University
AFC® University program student

April 18, 2014 at 8:00 am, by admin | No Comments | Category General

Financial Literacy Day on the Hill

Since 2003, April is recognized as Financial Literacy Month in resolutions by the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.  Financial Literacy Month evolved from Financial Literacy Day on the Hill.  One day every April a mix of government, not-for-profit and corporate organizations that promote financial literacy across the country exhibit, this year at the Hart Senate Building, and have the opportunity to share with congressional staffers their projects and products.

This year I attended the Hill event to man the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® (AFCPE®) booth.  The first lesson I learned was that I needed to pitch AFCPE.  Soon enough I was describing AFCPE as THE nonprofit of Financial Education; associated with the Land Grant Universities’ research in Personal Finance (via the Home Economics Department) and creator of the AFC® designation (an approved designation for federal contracts).  The day was off to a good start.

Soon Sen. Michael Enzi [R-WY], the only CPA in the Senate and co-sponsor of the event, welcomed the organizations and thanked everyone for attending.  With a few words from a few other congressmen the event went into full swing.  The booth to the right of mine was America Saves and we spoke about the America Saves social media project I had participated in during the month of February where I learned I had no clout.  We also discussed the growth of the Military Saves movement under their new director, James Lander.  I shared how as a tax consultant I know the majority of states do not require service members to pay state income tax.  As more of our service members prepare to transition, an 8% savings habit prepares them for the civilian lifestyle that often catches them off guard with state and local taxes.   The ladies were happy to pass along my “8% state income tax” savings suggestion.

Champlain College in VT and BYU in UT are the only two Universities in the country to have mandatory personal finance courses in their curriculum.  BYU’s material is available online and I reference it regularly.  Financial Literacy in the Universities has been a hot topic since student debt has surpassed one trillion dollars.  Though the curriculum is not following suit.  Technology that is available to students is leading the literacy movement.   One interesting find was iGrad, a customizable software program for University students and staff to access.  They advertise “Personalized content, driven by pushed-content engine. Recommended, relevant modules, articles, and videos are delivered to the right users at the right times.” They had me before hello.  I was drawn to their booth by “Financial Literacy in Higher Education: The Most Successful Models and Methods for Gaining Traction”; a whitepaper I have sent to a number of my friends at Universities.  The study concludes:

“There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution for a financial literacy program.  However, finding the most effective solution for your institution will likely involve employing different initiatives based on what is known about your student population, followed by ongoing testing and adjusting.”

This whitepaper captures the overall financial literacy education needs in our country.  The materials available on the Hill that day were eye opening for an educator like myself.  The organizations at the event were a display of the tools that are available to the public.  Financial Literacy is progressing one hill-day event at a time and it’s about time.

–Leticia Stevens, AFC®, AFCPE Member

April 17, 2014 at 10:52 am, by admin | 2 Comments | Category General