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Acquiring financial maturity

The Dawn of New Beginnings: Your Personal Financial Review to Dramatically Improve your Financial Lifestyle in serialised format on The Royal Gazette website is finalised this week, all 344 pages. Readers, I thank you for your support in this endeavour, and encourage you to have a read and a listen to the podcasts. Next stop – a launch on Apple books and a possible print edition.

Book Two: Into the Winds of Change: Risk Insurance and Relationships on the Island of Bermuda is scheduled for release at end of 2021.

Dear Readers, I’ve spent more than the second half of my life passionately promoting financial education. The first half, well, I just didn’t get the message – most of the time I was operating complacently, financially oblivious as were others of my peer generation finding their way.

Insecurely, we just bought into the subliminal message that we had to have the latest glitz, the latest fashion, the latest travel experience, the smartest promotion, the coolest vehicle, the gourmet kitchen, the most gorgeously decorated home, the diamonds and jewels. It was an implied competition to see who had the best of lifestyles.

Not that there is anything wrong with wanting, acquiring, and displaying!

Later, of course, when financial reality hit many at a great personal cost, those wants met common-sense revision. Later, in another subtle message, we were to learn that some of the glitziest people among us, those we admired/envied so much, were living solely on credit!

Glitz, that must be paid back at grossly higher costs with credit overkill!

Then, gradually, as is the wonderful nature of maturity that comes upon us, we respect ourselves and what is – and was – most important to our values and lifestyles. We recognised and moved on from past financial choices. Lessons learnt. We became the controllers of our financial future by educating ourselves in order to make the best possible decisions for us, personally.

We felt financially mature. We now could make mostly careful, rational decisions to buy certain things or experiences, or occasionally, splurge on total non-essential glitz without guilt, knowing that overall we felt very good about managing our finances. Not everyone reaches a financial comfortability at the same time in life; there will always be some still – at this late personal stage – who may feel comfortable continuing to compete in the game of life on what they own and what they acquire.

Well, it’s an individual choice, isn’t it?

So, here is another discourse on becoming financially mature, a better choice description than financial literate – because as one friend said, “Well, when you keep talking about being literate, you are telling me, I’m financially illiterate! That’s pretty critical, don’t you think? After all, I pay my bills, I save a bit, I live my life. What’s wrong with that!”

Nothing!

However, many of us whether we want to admit it or not, can always up our financial knowledge – in this incredibly fast-moving financial world.

Fast, too, is the name of the game.

It used to be that you had time to review your monthly bank statements, credit card bills, stand in line if you liked to pay a utility bill in cash and receive a receipt. You thought you knew where your money was – and most importantly – could take steps to correct errors, personally, or by phone with your local bank or vendor to protect your finances.

Not any more!

Hackers, scammers, computerised mistakes, spurious financial phone apps, personal social media trading platforms, autonomous digital coin and cryptocurrency transactions, routinely now it seems, we read/hear of stolen personal identity and financial accounts, etc. Just simply the speed of money transactions has transformed all financial matters.

Many credit-card companies decline to back fraudulent charges if not notified of same within tight limits – 48 hours. Do you know what your credit/debit card company terms are? Are the interest charges correct? Are your mortgage payments being applied correctly, that is your principal balance is decreasing? What about those car payments?

Do you know if the money app you use is legitimate? Is someone ordering stuff on your credit card?

Does your child think money just comes out of a machine when you need it? Children have told me that. One co-worker taught interest and savings to his/her children by loading a basic Quicken app on their computer. Another purchased a few shares of local companies doe his son- to enforce the dividend/appreciation concept.

A recent New York Times article, asking if financial literacy should be taught in school, specifically requested student comments on questions posed, such as “Is it important for courses to include discussions of how personal values and attitudes about money influence behaviour?” A total of 88 students responded with Illuminating, coherent, thoughtful, and extremely astute answers. Almost all overwhelmingly agreed with the need to have enhanced financial skills taught in school.

The OECD 2020 International Survey of Adult Financial Literacy measures a set of basic financial skills, behaviours and attitudes across 26 countries. Best rating is 21, the average score – 12.7, only 61 per cent – of adults were basic financially literate.

The financially astute and mature argument cannot be refuted. It is a certainty.

Financial literacy with life planning should start as early as possible and continue throughout our lives.

We are talking about and increasing financial education and literacy options here in Bermuda.

The CFA Bermuda Society offers great presentations at Bermuda College and online on investments, budgeting and related financial topics. https://www.cfasociety.org/bermuda/Pages/Financial-Literacy.aspx

Pocketchangebda https://www.pocketchangebda.com/ provides remote learning classes for K-12 for money concepts and planning for the future.

Please send me any other plans for accelerating financial education knowledge in our community. I am committed to highlighting your efforts and assisting in any way I can. I believe so strongly in financial education. It will change your life.

Readers – Stay tuned – next week. We haven’t even addressed financial behaviour, attitudes and relationships about money.

References

He believed Apple’s App Store was safe. Then a fake app stole his life savings in bitcoin. Washington Post, by Reed Albergotti, https://tinyurl.com/edev2pb7

Benefit of experience: financial maturity usually comes with time (Photograph by pixabay.com)

“Should All Schools Teach Financial Literacy?” New York Times, by Shannon Doyne, April 20, 2021, https://tinyurl.com/4wbw533b

Global Financial Literacy Excellence Centre: Money, Financial Literacy and Risk in the Digital Age, https://tinyurl.com/2ezjfufz

OECD, INFE 2020 International Survey of Adult Financial Literacy, https://tinyurl.com/4uykcw3c

Martha Harris Myron, CPA JSM, a native Bermudian, is the author of The Bermuda Islander Financial Planning Primers, international financial consultant to the Olderhood Group International, and financial columnist to The Royal Gazette. All proceeds from these articles are donated to the Salvation Army, Bermuda. Contact: martha@pondstraddler.com

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Published May 01, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated May 03, 2021 at 8:22 am)

Acquiring financial maturity

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