For many Americans, the Great Recession has forced them to learn more about finance - whether it was because they were directly impacted by loss of impact or net worth, or were jolted to pay attention by widespread news coverage and more indirect impacts.
Yet despite one of the biggest financial crises in our country's history, there are still many people who have not thoroughly empowered themselves financially, says finance writer A.W. Berry, which is a shame.
"The more financially knowledgeable consumers are, the less likely they are to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous lending tactics and other questionable financial practices," he adds. "Developing financial consciousness also helps people and organizations better managing their money for increased savings and net worth."
The founder of Moneycation hopes to help more people understand personal finance basics and keep them up to date on relevant economic news on his site. Here, he offers advice on what headlines we should be watching for in the news today and shares the reasons he thinks everyone should be paying closer attention to what's in their wallets. Read on:
What's your background in finance?
My background in finance includes financial services work at the consumer level, financial theory at the academic level and acclimation with financial events and their impact on businesses and the public at the technical or media level. I haven't done everything I've written about, but that is common among many prolific writers. Also, doing does not always go hand in hand with understanding.
Tell us about Moneycation...when and why did you start the site? Who should be reading it?
Moneycation began conceptually in late 2010 to early 2011, but it didn't take on the domain name Moneycation.com until around July 2013. The site was started to transfer many of the hundreds of financial articles I have written from another site and to offer a location for similar or related websites to share some of their information and knowledge. It has evolved or developed a little bit since then. Anyone interested in expanding their financial knowledge is the intended audience of the site.
Why are you interested in helping others understand more about finance and investing?
Documenting, working with and sharing financial information is something I am quite passionate about. Finding ways to help others attain greater financial awareness is also a way to develop professionally.
What do you think is the bare minimum the average person should know about personal finance?
I would say a good starting point for anyone is to know that many decisions in life have a financial cost; being acutely aware of that helps build financial awareness and sets a good tone for paying more attention to household budgeting and financial planning.
Many people might feel that investment or finance-related news is confusing or hard to follow...can you give us a basic primer for better understanding the headlines?
That is a good question, and I'm glad you asked it. Check out the Moneycation Newsletter that is scheduled to be published around mid-August for more on that. Also, many of the investment articles on Moneycation are designed to help convey useful financial concepts in a helpful way.
Why do you think it's important for us to have a basic understanding or awareness about the world of finance?
A good basic understanding of finance is like a tool kit for financial preparedness, goal attainment and financial emergencies. It is helpful in making effective financial decisions on a short-term and longer-term basis. Being aware of how finance effects our lives on a daily basis helps set the stage for better financial decisions.
What headlines in the investment world today do you think we should be paying attention to?
Inflation, wage growth and anything that points out low risk and high yield financial instruments are all key headlines that influence household budgets and costs.
For a broader scope on what's going on around us, headlines about monetary policy, consumer spending and quarterly GDP stats for the U.S., E.U. and China are informative.
What are some of your favorite money management resources and tools?
There are too many to list off, but off the top of my head, amortization calculators such as the one at Bankrate.com are useful because they show how much cumulative interest is paid on a mortgage each month. After a mortgage is paid off, those interest payments sometimes equal or surpass the original cost of the house. Basically, any tool or resource that accurately and usefully helps accomplish a financial task, goal or set of financial objectives is inherently of potential value, especially the free tools and resources.
What do you think is the general climate of the economy today in the U.S. as compared with five years ago?
The economy has improved in the last five years. However, it is not currently growing at a fast enough rate to propel a high enough level of job creation to keep up with demand. At current growth rates, maintaining the per capita standard of living many have become used to is difficult.
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