Course aims to improve financial wellbeing
Reams of Valentine’s Day cards wax lyrical about a partner’s eyes or their smile, but what about their ability to manage their money?
“When can you ask if a potential mate is in debt? Is it okay on the third date, or the fifth date,” joked Robin Masters, a chartered financial analyst. “We talk about physical intimacy, what about financial intimacy?”
Financial disagreements are the fifth leading cause of divorce.
If you want to learn more about managing your money, the CFA Society of Bermuda is hosting a financial literacy course in partnership with the Bermuda College PACE Programme.
The course gives an introduction to basic money and financial concepts, covering topics such as setting financial goals and budgeting, income, expenses and debt and planning for retirement.
Ms Masters is one of the facilitators.
“It will be our sixth course and the fourth offered on Zoom,” she said.
The course is open to adults. Sometimes couples and families take it together.
“It is for anyone who wants to increase their comfort level and make better decisions around their money,” Ms Masters said.
She said there is no right or wrong thing to do with your money, but the course helps people to make more informed financial decisions.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s council on financial literacy defines it as a combination of financial awareness, knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours necessary to make sound financial decisions and ultimately achieve individual financial wellbeing.
Ms Masters thinks there is evidence to show that the pandemic has only increased the need for such courses.
“We are going into the third year of this,” she said. “Is the end in sight? I think stress levels have increased around money. You have the realities around income, things are getting more expensive and people are losing their income.”
Participants start by looking at their values and goals, particularly their financial goals.
“You can’t do anything in life without having a predetermined goal,” Ms Masters said.
She said the information given in the course is standard.
“What is different about our course is that we talk about it,” Ms Masters said. “On Zoom we do it in breakout rooms. There is conversation and sharing with other people. That turns into doing some practical activities.”
And participants often share tips with one another. In a discussion about saving on utilities, one course taker revealed how she made turning off the lights in the house into a game for her children.
“They were tripping over themselves to turn lights off,” Ms Masters said.
While participants’ age and income levels vary, the majority are female.
“We have never had a class that was less than 80 per cent female,” Ms Masters said. “I really don’t know why that is.”
Ms Masters said it can be hard to know who to turn to when you are having financial difficulties, particularly because money can sometimes be a taboo topic in Bermudian society.
She said the financial literacy course is a good place to start, because it helps you to understand the topic you want to discuss.
“Sometimes learning about stuff is about learning about what you don’t know,” she said. “Then you can get to a point of confidence in the questions you are asking.”
But she said there are also many companies in Bermuda offering financial planning and advice.
“I always say go to all of them,” she said. “Did you get the same answer from place to place or a different answer?”
The course kicks off on February 23 and will run on Wednesday nights from 6pm to 9pm for four weeks.
The cost is $80.
To register, go to www.college.bm/pace and click the link ‘Register for PACE classes’ to access the online registration form.