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
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
“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.
“…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.
“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.
“…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.
“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!
“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.
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.