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Introduction: Where Does My Money Go?

Introduction: Where Does My Money Go?

Where Does My Money Go?

Where exactly does my money go? How can I save money when I’m living paycheck to paycheck (to spend all that you earn each time you get paid, without saving anything)?

How do I improve my credit? What should I do if I have a poor banking history? Are payday loans too risky? How do I protect the money I am making? What can I do to prepare for my future?

Many of us have asked ourselves (and others) these questions. It’s easy to ask the questions; it’s harder to find good answers and perhaps even harder to make the necessary changes. 

The financial world (“Financial” means relating to money or the management of money like banks, credit cards, the stock market, etc.) can be a very scary place: we have to learn to handle banks, taxes, credit cards, insurance—all of which have their own rules, vocabulary, and consequences.

So, not only are many of us struggling to make ends meet (to have just enough money to pay for the things that you need), but we might also be having a difficult time understanding the institutions we have to deal with.

However, there is hope.

One of the simplest and most important things you can do to improve your financial situation is to arm yourself with knowledge about the world of money. Understanding how money works in the world is called financial literacy.

This series of lessons will explore important financial topics such as budgeting, investing, reducing debt, building good credit, and more. Improving your knowledge and skills in these areas can help you make more informed and effective decisions about money, which in turn can lead to financial well-being (feeling comfortable and safe with the money you have, and what you are doing with it).

Here is a preview of some of the financial literacy topics you’ll find in this course:

1. Income and Earning Money

This lesson focuses on your income, or the money that you earn from your work or that you receive from a government agency, or investments, or some other arrangement.

We start by reviewing the basics of your paycheck: the definition of gross income and net pay, what is withheld of each paycheck, and direct deposit.

Next, you’ll learn about temporary work, getting paid in cash and under the table, and what it means to be an employee vs. an independent contractor and what to watch out for in these situations.

We’ll go over unemployment benefits: what they are, how much you get, how long you are entitled to benefits, and how to apply for them, and why you shouldn’t take jobs that pay you in cash while collecting unemployment.

Lastly, you’ll learn about welfare assistance: the different types of welfare programs such as TANF, food assistance and others, as well as eligibility requirements and how to apply.

2. Saving Money

In this important lesson, we focus on how to save money and make a budget.

You’ll learn about different types of savings, how to prioritize your bills and expenses, and how to monitor your spending and saving through handy charts. We’ll also discuss which financial records to keep and tips on how to store them.

Finally, we will review how to manage rising energy costs and keep grocery costs low. The goal is to reduce the stress of preparing for unexpected bills and expenses, and creating a more stable and rewarding financial future.

3. Banks and Banking

Most of us entrust our money to banks, but how much do we actually know about bank services? For example, what are the benefits of certain types of accounts? What are credit unions, anyway?

This lesson includes information on checking and savings accounts, credit unions, ATM cards, the advantages and drawbacks of debit cards and credit cards, and how to track your spending by using a checking account register.

It also covers what it means to have a “poor banking history,” and what you can do to improve your record.

4. Understanding and Managing Debt

What’s your debt-to-income ratio? Do you just pay the minimum payment each month? What’s your credit score?

These are all questions you’ll consider in this lesson. We discuss credit cards, different kinds of debt, how to get out of debt and build good credit, and how to get and read a credit report.

On the topic of credit cards, we’ll review credit card vocabulary, discuss the importance of paying more than the minimum amount due each month, interest rates, and getting help with a Consumer Credit Counseling Service agency.

Lastly, you’ll learn how you can receive and decipher your credit report, how to improve your credit score, and the benefits of having good credit.

5. Investing in Your Future

Investing is an intimidating term; you may associate it with the wealthy or Wall Street bankers. Yet investing is much broader than this. You invest in yourself by going to college or training programs; you invest in the Social Security system so that when you retire, you still have an income; you invest in a pension or a retirement plan like a 401K to make your retirement more comfortable

This lesson focuses on these investments. We’ll discuss what Social Security is and how it works, pensions and retirement plans, and how to save for retirement if you don’t have a retirement plan through your job.

We’ll also talk about higher education as an investment in your future, as well as other types of investments such as money market accounts, mutual funds, and bonds.

6. Protecting Your Money

After working hard for your money, you of course want to protect it. There are several ways to do this.

One of the best ways to protect your money is through insurance, namely health insurance and auto insurance.

We also have to protect ourselves from financial scams such as work-at-home and get-rich-quick schemes, as well as illegitimate phone and mail offers.

Homeowners have to be cautious about predatory lending scams such as equity stripping and balloon payments.

We’ll also discuss identity theft, which has become quite common in recent years. You’ll learn about the ways in which your personal information can be stolen and how to prevent this.

Float Your Boat Media offers curriculum and content to improve our customers’ chances of employment, workplace, economic and social success. Float Your Boat courses stand alone or as a complement to traditional career pathway and literacy programs. Our innovative blended learning platform provides lessons and interactive tools that are relevant, easy to understand and applicable to everyday situations.

Float Your Boat builds individual capacity and functions as an assessment and compliance tool for a wide variety of organizations. It has been used by agencies and CBOs with immigrant, refugee, OOS/foster youth, TANF, dislocated, unemployed, underemployed, skilled worker, unskilled worker, low-literacy English-speaking, and ESL populations.

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