>the dollar sign Marydee Ojala
Finance, Personally Speaking
T hat it’s been a tough economic climate these past few years is undeniable.
Pundits debated whether we were in a global recession or an actual depres-
sion. We had a credit crunch, the bailouts of large companies by national gov-
ernments, and corporate bankruptcies. Jobs disappeared; industries shrunk
drastically; housing prices went into free fall; and consumer spending dried up.
What’s an area of growth? Giving advice on personal finance.
When the When the economy tanks, people think more about their personal finances.
No longer does money just come rolling in. Investments lose value. Furlough
economy tanks, days and salary cuts mean less disposable income. Prices go up. Where will peo-
ple find the money for retirement, for educating their children, for basic living
people think more expenses? What about how to handle medical expenses? Is this the right time to
buy a house? What investments are recession-proof, if any? What money man-
agement techniques actually provide tangible benefits? Can you afford a vaca-
about their tion? What’s the best way to put together a budget?
When thinking of online resources to help answer questions such as these, to
personal finances. provide financial guidance, and to create sensible future planning, it’s easy to
become overwhelmed. Everyone and his brother, maybe even the family dog,
wants to give advice on personal finance. The trouble is, those bits of advice can
vary tremendously from one source to another.
PERSONAL IS AS PERSONAL DOES
The first thing to recognize is that personal finance is just that—personal.
Advice that is relevant to a single 25-year old person will be inappropriate if
applied to a married 65-year old person. Existing conditions can affect the valid-
ity of personal finance advice. Someone who has lived in the same house for
years and has paid off the mortgage is in a very different financial situation from
someone of the same age and income bracket who just bought a home and is
looking at mortgage payments stretching out 30 years.
Secondly, personal finance is often governed by where you live. If you’re in a
country that has national healthcare, you don’t have the same financial consid-
erations for medical care as you would in a country that lacks national health-
care, such as the U.S. Stock-picking tips for your personal portfolio, however,
usually transcend national borders.
Advice about personal finance often centers on the tax implications of actions
taken. Tax laws, regulations, and rates differ from country to country. Thus,
JAN | FEB 2010 51
your-money), although not produced by the Federal
Reserve, is featured. A similar site from the Council for
When it comes to Economic Education (www.councilforeconed.org) provides
lesson plans and suggestions for teaching basic financial
skills to grades K–12.