Life Happens: Personal Finance from College to Career

Free online course: 83 videos, 17 comprehensive problem-solving exercises. Digital text sold separately.
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  • Lectures 83
  • Contents Video: 4.5 hours
    Other: 7 mins
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 1/2013 English

Course Description

A nuts-and-bolts financial literacy course for students on both sides of college.

With more than 80 engaging videos in 17 information-packed segments, Personal Financial Management from College to Career delivers knowledge you can put to use today and later on in life.

Since 2009, Mitchell D. Weiss has been teaching his typically oversubscribed personal finance course at the University of Hartford. Now, Mitch is bringing both the course and its accompanying "un-college-textbook," Life Happens, to vivid life online.

You'll learn how to evaluate student loans, bank loans and competing credit card offers, approach buying a house or car, protect against ID theft, prepare for and choose between career opportunities, compare different insurance products, deal with financial adversity, and much more. Mitch's straightforward explanations and wide-ranging advice are easy to follow and implement.

The 17-section course can be taken from start to finish or sampled à la carte, if you prefer to focus on just what you need today. The e-text contains thought-provoking questions, real-life problems, and links to the same online tools Mitch uses on screen to solve those problems. The book also includes hundreds of additional links to even more educational resources and informative articles on this important subject.

About your instructor: Mitchell D. Weiss is an experienced financial services industry executive and entrepreneur, adjunct professor of finance at the University of Hartford, a member of the board of the university’s Barney School of Business and co-founder of its Center for Personal Financial Responsibility. Mitch is also the author of Business Happens - A Practical Guide to Entrepreneurial Finance for Small Businesses and Professional Practices and College Happens: A Practical Handbook for Parents and Students.

Business Happens - A Practical Guide to Entrepreneurial Finance for Small Businesses and Professional Practices

What are the requirements?

  • An open mind, basic computer skills and, most of all, an interest in learning how to take control of your financial life.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Upon completion of the course, students should be able to: •tConstruct and manage a personal budget that takes into account their short and long term financial goals and objectives •tUnderstand the importance of saving and investing in the achievement of their personal goals and objectives •tPlan for major purchases and higher education costs •tChoose between, manage and protect credit alternatives, especially those involving credit cards, higher education loans, auto loans, etc. •tUnderstand the types of insurance that may be particularly relevant for them at this point in their lives •tWeigh the financial, economic and other impacts of the different career choices they may be contemplating •tProblem-solve their way through day-to-day and moderately complicated situations involving personal financial issues

What is the target audience?

  • Students in as well as on both sides of college

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: 1.0 Budgeting

“You can’t plan a future without first establishing some objectives…” This opening segment of Personal Financial Management from College to Career is broken into five smaller parts in which I discuss the importance of establishing goals, timelines and priorities; budgeting as a zero-sum concept with only so many dollars to go around; why it’s a good idea to continuously track, assess and routinely revise your plans; how to budget for cars, houses and apartments, and the financial considerations that are part and parcel of committed relationships.

1.2 A 'Zero-Sum' Equation
1.3 Track, Assess & Revise
1.4 Cars, Houses & Apartments
1.5 Budgeting for Committed Relationships
Section 2: 2.0 Cash Management

“We’ve already talked about the expense side of cash management that’s controlled by the budgets we establish. What about the income side?” This six-part segment starts with a discussion about gross versus net pay—how much money you can reasonably expect to take home each pay period and how to manage the withholding taxes your company removes from your paycheck in the first place. In fact, the second video in this series is a problem-solving exercise that introduces you to an online tool that was designed for just that purpose. In the third video, I talk about checking account policies and practices, as well as the best ways to guard against unnecessary (and expensive) fees by tightly managing your balances. Afterward, you’ll learn about debit cards and the issues associated with their use, the key strategies for success when it comes to cash management, as well as a series of guidelines for retaining, referencing and securely archiving important information that’s also sensitive in nature.

2.2 Problem Solving - Part One, Problem #1
2.3 Checking Account Policies & Practices
2.4 Debit Cards
2.5 Strategies for Success
2.6 Record Retention Recommendations
Section 3: 3.0 Taxes

“At the beginning of the cash management section, I talked about gross versus net pay... Let’s back up for a minute and talk about taxes in general—how our system works, the forms you’ll be using...the calculations you’ll be asked to make…” This five-part segment begins with a discussion about federal tax rates and forms. The second video is a quick overview on state income taxes, the third describes the process of calculating your taxes and the fourth brings it all back to the topic of how to effectively manage your payroll withholding taxes. The last video is a problem-solving exercise in which I show you how to use a 1040A form and the accompanying tax tables, as well as how to coordinate the results with the withholding tax calculator from segment 2.0.

3.2 State Income Taxes
3.3 Calculating Federal Taxes
3.4 Managing Withholdings
3.5 Problem Solving - Part One, Problem #2
Section 4: 4.0 Acquiring, Managing & Protecting Credit

“The credit evaluation process is pretty straightforward—creditors want to know EVERYTHING and borrowers have no choice but to tell them, if they hope to get approved.” This five-part segment covers what I truly believe is the crux of personal financial management: personal credit. Frankly speaking, unless you get this part right, it really doesn’t matter how faithful you’ve been to your budget or how much you may have in the bank; it’ll all be placed at risk. So, let’s start with the 5-C’s of credit—capital, capacity, collateral, conditions and character—what they mean and how they’re evaluated by the banks. After that, I talk about the importance of your credit bureau—the story arc of your financial life—and how it’s even more important than your FICO score, which is the topic I cover next. Afterward, you’ll hear about the five steps to managing personal credit, the precautions you should take to avoid identity theft and what to do should “lightning strikes.”

4.2 Credit Bureaus
4.3 Credit Bureaus
4.4 Managing Credit
4.5 Identity Theft
Section 5: 5.0 Bank Loans

“Let me give you a window into the four decisions that every lender makes…” The fifth segment is a nine-part discussion about bank loans. It begins with a description of the different types of lending institutions, the fundamental decisions all lenders make and how the banks expect to profit from the loans they approve. You’ll hear about the concept of loan amortization and work through a problem-solving exercise that utilizes an interesting online calculator Afterward, I describe how financing schemes such as low or no-interest rate loans are actually merchandise discounts in disguise and take you through a second problem-solving exercise that dramatizes this point. The sixth video is an overview of the terms and conditions you can expect to see in a typical of bank loan agreement, followed by a discussion about loan refinancing and recasting. After a third problem-solving exercise that utilizes a different online tool for calculating Annual Percentage Rates, I talk about the concept of underwater loans—what they are, how they happen and how to avoid becoming trapped in one.

5.2 Loan Amortization
5.3 Problem Solving - Part Two Problem #1
5.4 Financing Manipulations
5.5 Problem Solving - Part Two, Problem #5
5.6 Consumer Loan Agreement Terms & Conditions
5.7 Refinancing & Loan Recasting
5.8 Problem Solving - Part Two, Problem #2
5.9 Underwater Loans
Section 6: 6.0 Student Loans

“…The total amount of education loan debt is a trillion dollars today—more than the sum total of credit card debt that’s owed by American consumers!” Segment 6.0 lays the groundwork for a follow-up discussion in Segments 10.0 and 11.0. In this segment, I summarize the benefits and pitfalls of the various government and private student loan programs as well as a series of strategies for controlling and managing the amount of debt you undertake.

6.2 Private Student Loans
6.3 Strategies for Controlling Student Loan Debt
Section 7: 7.0 Leases

“Companies that sell high-priced items know that the way to make a sale is by pitching the monthly payment and NOT the price of the item itself.” When people hear the word “lease,” they think of cars, and with good reason—just about every car commercial touts leasing as the least costly way to get the car you want to drive. I begin this four-part segment by describing how leasing works—the ownership responsibilities that are undertaken by those who lease and the three ways the leasing companies make money. In the next two videos, I describe the key contractual terms and conditions of the typical auto lease, as well as the three questions you should ask yourself before signing on the dotted line. Afterward, there’s an interesting problem-solving exercise that asks you to compare the all-in costs of leasing a car versus buying it outright with the help of some bank financing.

7.2 Key Components of a Typical Lease
7.3 Considerations & Strategies
7.4 Problem Solving - Part Two, Problem #4
Section 8: 8.0 Credit Cards

“…Credit cards…make it easy for us to buy what we need when we want...” In this five-part segment, I start with a short history of credit cards and explain how the credit card companies make their profits. You’ll then learn how to avoid the “avoidable” fees and benefits of the recently implemented C.A.R.D. Act. I then talk about the prepaid card market—the fees that are charged as well as the consumer protection issues that are important for you to know—how to ensure credit card and smartphone security, five ways to manage credit card use and finally, two interesting strategies that are worth considering. Segment 8.0 ends with a problem-solving exercise that helps you to link together the concepts of loan duration, amortization and interest when it comes to paying off your credit card balance.

8.2 Prepaid Cards
8.3 Credit Cards & Cellphones
8.4 Strategies for Managing Credit Card Use
8.5 Problem Solving - Problem #3
Section 9: 9.0 Debt Management Strategies

“Prioritize your borrowing options…know your limits…understand the math…understand what you’re signing…know your rights…” These are the debt management strategies that will keep you on the right path. Although this two-part segment is the shortest of the group, it is the capstone for the preceding four segments. The information it contains is not only reinforcing, it also adds to your knowledge—particularly the part about the consumer protection laws that stunningly few people realize exist!

9.2.Debt Management
Section 10: 10.0 Education, Earnings & the Quality of Life

“Human Capital, Financial Capital and Social Capital…combined, these three elements translate into personal and professional flexibility. And it all begins with your educational pursuits…” I begin this four-part segment with a discussion about the concept of personal capital, which I just described, the role that higher education plays in its development as well as the challenges we face today as tuition prices are outpacing the rate of inflation while the dropout rate continues to hover around 50%. From there, it’s on to a discussion about school choice, including alternative settings, the merits of the different testing programs for credit, as well as other cost-saving strategies, merit- and need-based scholarships, economical meal plans and the considerations for on- versus off-campus living. In the third and fourth videos, I offer advice about “borrowing the right amount” for college, followed by a a problem-solving exercise that will help you to visualize this concept.

10.2 School & Program Choices
10.3 Borrowing the Right Amount
10.4 Problem Solving - Part Three, Problem #1
Section 11: 11.0 Career Choice vs. Career Chance

“The courses you take, the internships you get, the volunteer work you do—these things don’t just add to your Human Capital. They also help you to zero-in on the areas that interest you, so that you can begin to envision the kind of work you’d like to do after graduation.” Although this six-part segment may sound like a series of career counseling sessions, rest assured there’s an economic element that’s too often underplayed. I start by discussing how to establish preferences—in particular, the importance of having a Plan “B” and a Plan “C,” for when Plan “A” doesn’t pan out—followed by some advice for setting the stage for your first contact, phone screens and in-person interviews. I talk about how to prepare, how to speak, what to wear and how to follow up, not to mention the three questions you should ask yourself before letting money influence your decision. The fifth section is a problem-solving exercise that utilizes a form of “salary deflator”—a tool that helps you to compare salaries and costs of living in different geographies. And finally, I talk briefly about entrepreneurism as a career option—the pluses, the minuses, the rewards and the serious responsibilities you undertake when you make the decision to run your own show.

11.2 Setting the Stage for Contact
11.3 Phone Screens & In-Person Interviews
11.4 Evaluating & Choosing between Opportunities
11.5 Problem Solving - Part Three, Problem #2
11.6 The Entrepreneurial Option
Section 12: 12.0 Savings & Investment Strategies

“Cutting to the chase, there’s no way your longer-term goals will be realized unless one of three things happen—you inherit a boatload of money, you win the lottery, or you plan for what you need and want.” In this five-part segment, I discuss the financial planning process—how to document, value and timeline your objectives so that you can match them up with investment alternatives that make sense. You’ll learn about the Time Value of Money—a dollar in hand today is worth more than the same amount tomorrow—and compound interest. The problem-solving exercises put these fundamentally important concepts into practice as we use an online Time Value of Money calculator to figure out how much cash we need to have on hand at different points in time in the future. I conclude the segment with a discussion about the various decisioning strategies to consider—how to evaluate your options, how to compare the risks you run versus the rewards you hope to earn, and how to avoid mistakes.

12.2 Time Value of Money
12.3 Projecting Long-Term Values
12.4 Problem Solving - Part Four, Problem #1
12.5 Decisioning Strategies
Section 13: Longer-Range Planning

The notion of retirement is so abstract for young adults that when surveyed by Yahoo Finance, only a third of GenX’ers felt confident, “…they’d have sufficient funds to live comfortably. In fact, about 60% of the group hadn’t ever done the math!” This segment focuses on the three-pronged approach to retirement planning: personal savings, retirement specific savings and Social Security. You’ll hear me talk about the differences between and within each as these “prongs” as well as how to strike the right balance. We’ll then do an interesting problem-solving exercise that brings the issue into even sharper focus by causing you think about the longer-term financial implications of the decisions you’re making today.

13.2 Projecting Future Needs
13.3 Problem Solving - Part Four, Problem #2
Section 14: 14.0 Automobile Purchases

“New, used, leased, owned—it doesn’t matter because it all boils down to the dollars and cents that fit into the following three categories: acquisition costs, ownership costs and operating costs.” In this four-part segment, I talk about upfront and ongoing costs, used car purchases, how dealer trade-ins and private-part sales impact the amount of sales tax you end up paying as well as the differences between express, implied, limited and extended warranties. The problem-solving exercise brings this topic to life when we use one online tool to compare trade-in and private-sale values for a particular car and another to determine the monthly payments for the auto loan that’s needed to support your purchase. In the middle of the problem, you’ll see me calculate the impact each of your alternatives will have on the sales tax you pay.

14.2 Trade-Ins, Private Sales & Sales Taxes Implications
14.3 Problem Solving - Part Five, Problem #2
14.4 Warranties
Section 15: 15.0 Housing Purchases

“From a dispassionately economic standpoint, it’s purely a matter of comparing the all-in costs of renting versus buying…” In this five-part segment, I talk about the three questions to ask yourself before you pick up a calculator. I also describe how to take apart and compare the acquisition, ownership and operating costs for each of the opportunities you may be considering. We’ll then apply this knowledge in a problem-solving exercise that asks you to compare two houses that are sized and priced differently. After that, I talk about what to expect in a real estate purchase agreement as well as the attributes and pitfalls of the “equity” we hope to build over time.

15.2 Acquisition, Ownership & Operating Costs
15.3 Problem Solving - Part Five, Problem #1
15.4 Real Estate Purchase Agreements
15.5 Home Equity
Section 16: 16.0 Insuring Your World

“There are all kinds of insurance policies available to consumers…the point is, if you can identify a risk that concerns you, you can probably find an insurance product to guard against it.” We cover a lot of ground in this six-part segment—how insurance companies make money, the different types of coverages that are available, how deductibles and exclusions work, and so forth. I also talk about homeowner’s, renter’s and automobile insurance policies, the differences between property and casualty (liability) insurance, health care insurance, life insurance and more. One of the problem-solving exercises demonstrates how to compare insurance premium financing costs and the other, how to untangle the economics behind the different health care programs your employer may offer.

16.2 Problem Solving - Part Six, Problem #1
16.3 Homeowner's, Renter's & Automobile Insurance
16.4 Health Care Insurance
16.5 Problem Solving - Part Six, Problem #2
16.6 Life Insurance Policies & More
Section 17: 17.0 Financial Distress

“Missing a payment here or there isn’t the end of the world…unless you let things get out of hand.” Although this final segment may be the most uncomfortable for you to hear, it happens to be one of the most important for you know…just in case. In this four-part segment, I take you behind-the-scenes when I describe a worse-case scenario—what you can expect to happen when you run out of money, out of time and your lender runs out of patience. You’ll also learn how to work through your problem—how to prepare for the discussions you’ll have to have with your creditors what you can expect if you’re granted relief. In the two problem-solving exercises, I show you how to use the knowledge you’ve gained to determine whether you’re being helped or harmed by your creditor’s proposal, which will help you to negotiate for what you need.

17.2 Problem Solving - Part Seven, Problem #1
17.3 Workouts, Restructures & Bankruptcy
17.4 Problem Solving - Part Seven, Problem #2
Section 18: Introduction & Closing Comments
Closing Comments

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Instructor Biography

Mitchell D. Weiss, Financial services industry professional, professor, author

My background is on the lending side of the financial services industry. I have owned and run commercial finance companies and served as an executive officer at several banks. I am also an Executive-in-Residence at the University of Hartford, co-founder of its Center for Personal Financial Responsibility and served five years as a member of the university's Barney School of Business' Board of Visitors.

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