What Are Fintech Developments in 2018?

Ajay NagpalFonta Guilliam developed a fintech company called Sou Sou to extend women and minorities lending opportunities outside of traditional banking, as explained by Samantha Harrington in a Forbes Magazine article. Sou Sou, named after the lending circle tradition practiced in Ghana, provides a platform where entrepreneurs can create their digital lending circles.

Lending circles provide loans to members, who all contribute a small sum each month. Each month, one member receives all the contributions, representing a loan, which they must repay by adding to the circle. The member’s contributions represent their loan payments. This practice mimics the banking system but saves members interest costs.

Technology continues to open financing opportunities, and 2018 is expected to usher in many more fintech developments, as explained by Sunhil Madhu in Forbes Magazine, Madhu predicts disruption for the biometrics industry, though many tech analysts see biometrics making gains. Madhu points to Apple’s decision to share facial recognition mapping data with app developers. Being able to source this data from Apple and possibly other device makers cut out biometrics companies. Before Apple’s decision to share the face mapping technology, developers relied on biometrics companies to provide it. That reliance may soon be a thing of the past.

Madhu also sees 2018 ushering in many AI-related changes. Online fraud detection may soon make tremendous gains through AI’s ability to adapt to online fraudster’s ever-changing tactics. Currently, fraud prevention systems rely on a human entered a system of rules. Hackers identify these rules and then get around them. AI promises to replace this increasingly inefficient defense system with machine learning that can react to hackers at a speed no human can match.

Fintech also promises to plug the hole in online user identification. For the past decade, users have been checking out as guests on e-commerce sites, using data readily obtainable by fraudsters. Biometric capabilities can now provide a solution. By requiring the authorized user to input their fingerprint into their device, ecommerce providers can finally offer 100-percent identity assurance.

Regtech involves using technology to comply with financial regulations. Biometrics and AI have the power to revolutionize reg tech. For example, AI’s data processing ability offers the potential to automate the data processing portion of money laundering investigations. AI can complete these data mining and organizing tasks at speeds previously beyond human imagination. This frees investigators to focus on more nuanced legal and investigative portions of the investigation process.

Blockchain technology has promise beyond cryptocurrencies. For example, technologists are exploring its potential for online identity verification. Many new blockchain technology applications may come onto the horizon.

Few deny that fintech’s impact on the economy of the future will be substantial. Increased ability to create financially beneficial connections promises opportunities. Increased security effectiveness may take a serious bite out of online crime.

Tips to Deal with Debt without Shame

Tips to Deal with Debt without Shame _ Ajay NagpalDebt is all too easy to accumulate and difficult to eliminate. The strain of debt can be financially and emotionally paralyzing. Obligations hinder progress toward financial security and often cause stress which leads to an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.

Whether debt results from adverse situations or unwise choices, many people feel guilt or shame about their situation. Guilt is remorse over behaviors, such as feeling sorry about overspending on junk food. Guilt can be helpful if utilized to avoid repeating missteps that lead to debt. Shame, however, is a negative feeling about oneself. It is self-blame, leading one to feel worthless, stupid, or hopeless. Shame makes it challenging to feel capable of positive change and often fuels the cycle of self-sabotaging habits that need to be discarded.

In rebuilding a financial foundation, assess the current situation and understand that debt is an issue worth addressing. Next, accept responsibility for the debt even if the circumstances that created the debt were uncontrollable. Realize that debt is quite common: neighbors, celebrities, and governments are facing money troubles all over. Formulate a plan to become debt-free as soon as possible. Here are a few ideas:

1. Take charge — stop charging.
Make a budget and set financial goals that include debt elimination with a financial planner or app. Make every financial decision in light of those goals: does that expenditure help toward financial stability? Is it for a legitimate need or a whim? Begin paying for purchases with cash or a debit card instead of a credit card. Pay off consumer debt now.

2. Simplify — scale down.
This step requires humility: it may be necessary to downsize cars and houses or sell extra clothes and “toys.” In doing so, the reduced stress of simple living will override any embarrassment from scaling back. For encouragement, reflect on acquaintances who have embraced a frugal lifestyle, or think of famous literary characters such as Molly Weasley, Jack Reacher, Silas Marner or Katniss Everdeen as models to emulate.

3. Choose wise friends — support each other.
Achieving financial stability and freedom calls for determined focus. Having close associates who will support this goal will make the process easier. Wise friends will not take advantage of each other or persuade each other to make additional money choices in conflict with set goals. Their understanding, advice, and experience will make the path smoother as they share their financial victories.

5 Critical Books for Finance Professionals

5 Critical Books For Finance Professionals _ Ajay NagpalWhether it’s a movie like Wolf of Wall Street or a real-life drama like the 2008 financial crisis – finance has always been a backdrop for drama. This leaves writers who focus on finance with a long list of topics to choose from. Here are five books that every finance professional should be familiar with:

1) The Intelligent Investor

Ever wonder how Warren Buffett learned everything he knows about investing? Well, this is the book he recommends.

In this book, Benjamin Graham provides readers with a map to investing success by using a long-term, value-investment approach. Published in 1949, it’s been updated and remains relevant today.

 

2) Common Sense on Mutual Funds

This is a book written about 20 years ago by John Bogle. The book focuses on mutual fund investing.

Who’s John Bogle? The creator of the Vanguard Group, one of the most respected mutual fund investment firms in the world. There’s no better person to learn about mutual funds from.

 

3) A Random Walk Down Wall Street

This is a great book to gain insight into all possible investment strategies.

The author, Burton Malkiel, takes readers through all market fundamentals – from stock investments to mutual funds. It remains a great resource for someone new to finance, and for the experienced professional.

 

4) Liar’s Poker

By now, everyone’s familiar with the Wolf of Wall Street. Well, that wasn’t a one of story.

In this book, Michael Lewis recalls his experience at Salomon Brothers on Wall Street in the late 1980’s. Readers won’t just get insight into basic investment fundamentals, but the wild side of Wall Street, too.

 

5) The Alchemy of Finance

The author, George Soros, is known to have a great eye for market trends. He’s considered one of the best of all time at hedge fund managers. This book teaches readers how to use his unique approach, and highlights reacting to the market and its trends.

The financial world provides writers with an endless amount of topics to choose from. Whether it’s basic value-investing strategy as taught by Benjamin Graham, or the inside scoop of what Wall Street was like according to Michael Lewis, the information is out there for any reader who wants to expand their knowledge.

 

 

 

4 Resources For Financial Educators

financial educationLikely, there are dozens upon dozens of organization and tools designed to help young people access essential knowledge about finances and securing budgetary success.

The problem, however, is identifying these resources, and knowing how you might put them to work.

Read on to find the names of four organizations/tools you can use to equip better young people who someday hope to be financially savvy:

National Endowment For Financial Education: The NEFE is a private nonprofit dedicated to empowering young people and families, helping to secure a legacy of financial success that will carry them into their futures. They do this by conducting research and commissioning consumer surveys. They utilize unique and practical training tools, putting them to use in the workplace and the classwork. Also, the provide adult and youth financial education tools and resources, fostering a better understanding of saving and spending.

MoneyTeach: MoneyTeach is an invaluable tool and curricula resource connection, matching financial educators with the valuable, instructional resources that they need. Visitors to the site can find quality instructional resources; suggested workshops and course guides; and they can engage with the educator community, collaborating with colleagues. The account is free, borrows lesson planning tips and activities from leading peers who ongoingly teach financial planning and financial smarts.

Smart About Money: Smart About Money is an online course that users can complete at their own pace. Educators can hone their skills by creating courses that focus on money basics, family planning, economic emergencies, transportation, spending, saving, investing, retirement, taxes, borrowing, and other topics. SAM is a customizable and free tool, providing timely tips and money management ideas.

Jump$tart Clearinghouse: Jump$tart is a leading financial education resource center, created with the purpose of helping students. They list featured information relating to financial literacy and provide practical money skills for life.

If you know the names of some other websites tasked with helping young people secure financial freedom, please share!

Budget Yourself & Make Smart Money Moves

calculatorWe can shop without leaving our homes. In fact, we can shop without lifting a finger, thanks to the development of high-functioning devices fit with the purchasing capabilities. In a time where purchasing can be as easy as breathing, let’s practice smart budgeting habits.

It has never been a better time to watch your spending and ensure that money being put to the side for future needs. Monitoring your budget and properly managing your wealth can be the difference between you putting the down payment on your new car or you riding the bus from here to Pasadena.

  1. Quick and Easy Dinners – Create one-pot-wonders that can last you for days. Get staple items, such as beans, onions, carrots, and a meat option to create hearty meals that can last for several days. Don’t know where to begin? Make a crockpot chili or the long-standing crowd-favorite, chicken noodle soup.
  2. Keep Cheap The Staples on Hand – Keep frozen items and dry goods on hand to build meals around them. These options are flexible for any meal.
  3. Track your Spending – Review your budget and see where you can scale back. There are a number of applications you can use to track the money that you spend as well as the money that you save.
  4. Hold the Drinks and Hold Your Liquor – Whenever possible, refrain from buying drinks out. A non-alcoholic drink tacks $3-$5 onto your bill, while alcoholic drinks can add a costly $5-$15, and likely more if you’re having wine or you’re dining at a high-end establishment. Several rounds of drinks can double or triple the bill. Instead, save some cash and go to a BYOB.
  5. Unit Pricing– Compare unit pricing on items in the store, so that you aren’t caught off-guard. Also, make sure to keep track of your spending while walking through the grocery store. Pick a budget and stick to it.
  6. Shop Smart – Stores have products that are soon to out-of-date that are discounted. Buy the items and use them right away. There are also companies, such as Imperfect Produce, which sells “ugly” produce at a bulk rate.

See where you can save financially and be conservative. Remember that items, such as utilities and gasoline, will continue to rise. Keep a calendar of upcoming changes and expenses. Non-monthly expenses (i.e. insurance) should be put on a calendar so that the charges don’t catch you off guard.

Things We Wish We Knew About Spending, Saving, and Fund Management in Our 20s

Ajay NagpalFor many young men and women in their 20s, saving a large sum of money feels like an impossibility. Likewise, the idea of planning ahead may also feel like a considerable challenge. However, we all know that financial literacy and financial stability must be sought early and intentionally.

Individuals with financial competence can experience the freedoms and joys of comfort, meaning they can have disposable income and make choices that won’t leave them in peril. It’s important to not only be careful about the way you spend but the way you save. After all, there are many misconceptions about spending, savings, and managing funds.

For anyone who made it out of their 20s, there are likely a dozen things they wish they’d learned a bit sooner, which could have set them up for great success in the future.

  1. Utilizing The Credit Card The Right Way | Unfortunately, younger people tend to use their credit cards for apparel and entertainment purposes, while older people tend to use their credit cards to cover the cost of significant repairs and travel. Using your credit card responsibly is a great way to build our credit score and demonstrate financial responsibility.  
  2. Reporting Rent To The Credit Bureaus | Less than 1 percent of credit files contain rental information, according to NerdWallet. Communicating rental information will boost individual credit scores.
  3. Monitor Your Credit| CreditKarma, CreditSesame, and CreditRepair are just three of several resources used by the public to help them achieve financial freedom. These websites offer tips and free monitoring.
  4. Investing With Very Little| For a long time, it seemed that only wealthy people could invest in stocks and mutual funds. Acorns, Stockpile,  and Stash are three available apps, enabling success at income level. According to Bankrate, just one in three millennials, but that could increase that to the development of more investment tools.
  5. Be Careful About Inquiries | Be careful when applying for credit cards. If you aren’t mindful, you can quickly ruin your credit.  
  6. Store Away Money | Seventy-two percent of Millennials have less than $1,000 saved away, according to GoBankingRates. It’s important to get into the habit of setting apart money with each paycheck.

There a few other things you may consider doing, including being mindful of predatory lending; spending less money when socializing, and watching your debt as it accrues.

If you have any other thoughts about unloading debt and better managing your finances, please share.

Encourage Young People To Find Success Through Savings Goals, Programs

Ajay NagpalSetting up savings goals and enrolling young people in youth literacy programs are just some ways young people can grow up financially aware. Showing children or adolescents how to budget and plan should be compulsory, and it can fundamentally teach young people how to be savvy adults.

Read on to learn what ways young people might curb a desire for instant gratification and avoid impulse buying in the future.

Credit cards:  Without a true understanding of what credit cards are, some young people acquire cards and begin to borrow from lenders early. It’s important that older individuals sit down with young people and discuss the dangers of spending money electronically, especially using a credit card. Credit cards are a great tool but they can give you a helpful boost into drowning debt. The next time our child asks you where money from a credit card comes from, explain that the transaction isn’t magic. Allow your child to ask questions about credit card usage and how to safely borrow using credit cards.

Cash and Coins: Digital spending is on the rise, but children still use physical currency as a tool for counting, learning, and saving. The tangible experience of cash has long been fundamental for education. It’s necessary that young people see that there’s a difference between spending money on something like candy vs. a toy car. The candy is cheaper and offers instant gratification. However, the toy car is more expensive but has ‘wealth’ that maintains for a while.

Grocery List: Allow your child the opportunity to help with the shopping list. If your child gains an early understanding of needs vs. wants, ahead of entering the store, they’ll have a greater sense of responsibility, and see the importance of sticking to an established agenda.

Use Jars, not Piggy Banks:  Jars are so much better for saving because they’re clear; also they can separate money as they collect. Rather than sticking all of one’s money in the same jar, young people can set up three jars for spending, sharing, and savings.  They can give their different money jobs by using different jars. Similarly, they can do the same thing by using different apps.

In addition to the other tips, you may want to incentive savings by encouraging adding to your child’s saving when they save. You can track savings in a public place. If you have any other thoughts about helping young people to save early and often, please share!

7 TED Talks That Will Instantly Improve Your Financial Literacy

7 Ted Talks That Will Instantly Improve Your Financial Literacy | Ajay NagpalWith information now readily available, many readers seek to improve their financial literacy. Below are seven TED talks that can help you go from being lost in the financial world, to crafting a personal finance plan.

1) How I Learned to Read – and Buy Stocks – in Prison

Curtis Carroll delivered this presentation from prison in 2016. The theme of his talk is that financial literacy is a lifestyle more so than a skill. He discusses various strategies focusing on personal finance. Curtis Carroll’s talk is a motivating introduction because if he can do it from prison, surely anyone has hope.

2) Why You Should Know How Much Your Co-Workers Get Paid

This TED Talk was given by David Burkus, who works in the management research industry. In this presentation, he claims that it is best for people in a company to exchange salary details with one another. His research proves that employee happiness increases and company discrimination decrease as a result of this.

3) Saving For Tomorrow, Tomorrow

This talk is given by Shlomo Benartzi, a respected economist. He goes over the importance of saving, and how many Americans continuously put it off. He presents dramatic statistics about the popularity of 401(k) accounts and American saving amounts.

4) The Battle Between Your Present and Future Self

In this TED Talk from Daniel Goldstein, another economist, he opts to use the distinction between our present and future selves as motivation to begin saving. He provides strategies for how we can prevent ourselves from harming our future selves by saving today.

5) Post-Crash, Investing in a Better World

This talk from social commentator Geoff Mulgan is simply focused on how to effectively invest after the most recent economic crash.

6) How to Buy Happiness

Michael Norton is a social science researcher who presents on how donating our money to charitable causes can result in more happiness.

7) The Future of Money

In this TED Talk, Neha Narula, who works at Digital Currency Initiative, presents on the power of using a digital currency system.

The information is surely out there and starting with these seven TED Talks, you can improve your financial literacy in no time.

Youth & Financial Education in 2018: Tips For Integrating Financial Literacy Into The Lives of Students

Youth & Financial Education in 2018_ Tips For Integrating Financial Literacy Into The Lives of Students | Ajay NagpalFinancial literacy is a vital area for students to concentrate on. Many students struggle with planning their finances for the future. However, many teachers feel like they do not have the tools to teach their students appropriately in this area.

One of the most significant issues with the modern school system is that teachers spend too much time worrying about standardized test scores. Instead, the teachers could spend time teaching children essential aspects of financial planning for the future.

Debt

Debt is a notable issue in our society today. Many people feel that high levels of debt trapped them. As a result, it is difficult for young people to purchase a new home or invest in a business. With the cost of college increasing rapidly, the average student leaves college with a high level of student loan debt. This is a subject that could easily be taught in school. In fact, there are several financial courses dedicated to this particular subject.

Budgeting

Another essential aspect of having financial success is budgeting. Many individuals struggle to budget appropriately. Budgeting is essentially just staying organized and disciplined with financial planning.

There are a ton of online programs to use to help with the budgeting process. There are some people who have trouble budgeting in the beginning. It usually takes several months to truly have success in this area.

Investing

Investing is the best way to build wealth over an extended period. Numerous people do not understand how to invest for the future. Investing is not complicated, but it can seem complicated for people who are never exposed to it. Teaching some investing basics to students is a great way to improve their financial literacy. Over a long period, this can make a huge difference in the lives of students.

Take Time to Teach

Schools need to focus on teaching critical principles to students. Financial literacy is one of the best ways to help students in the future. Many students are graduating from school without any exposure to financial literacy. Financial literacy courses will make the lives of students more comfortable in the future. Personal finance is not a complicated subject, but it can be difficult for students to understand without proper teaching.

 

Spectacular Financial Literacy Courses Available for FREE

Spectacular-Financial-Literacy-Courses-Available-for-FREE-compressorEducation centered around financial literacy and personal finance is just be a few keystrokes away.

Did you know that you could take FREE online classes, which could offer you a beginner’s and intermediate understanding of finances, whether that’s wealth management, financial, accounting, mutual funds, compound interest, debt, or savings, or wealth management? It seems that the options are endless.

There are countless resources on the web, offering users the valuable information they seek. While searching the vast internet, you sometimes happen upon a course that empowers you through the info shared during the program.  While many of these resources aren’t necessarily on par with fully developed college courses, some classes are very adept at providing keen insight on how to use financial literacy as an effort to foster a lifetime of economic well-being.

There can be a fee for graded work. However, all materials are available at no cost. For full financial literacy, it’s essential to examine behavior economics, competency about daily spending, and an understanding of stock movement. The variety of courses featured online can provide a clear, functional career path that can construct a healthier and more stable financial reality for many.

So you might be asking, ‘Where do you go to find these incredible, free classes, which could change my financial trajectory?” MOOCs.

If you venture over to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) or  Coursera, you’d quickly learn that there are multiple courses that speak to a need for addressing finances. For instance, “Personal & Family Financial Planning,” “Organizational Behavior: How To Manage People,” “English for Media Literacy,” and “Finance for Non-Financial Professions” demonstrate the variety. The courses placed on MOOC are aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web, which means that it’s designed to be utilized by anyone.

Read on to review a quick overview of some of the most acclaimed courses featured on the MOOCs’ website:


Behavioral Finance—Duke University

coursera.org/learn/duke-behavioral-finance

Understanding how decision-making errors impact your financial choices.

Review: “Generally it’s a fantastic online course, which gives me so much insight into an area I have previously unaware of. Behavioral Finance is meaningful because it takes human behavior factors into account of finance models, especially psychology factor. It offers me new insight into a study of interdisciplinary subjects. Class outlines and videos are well-organized and challenging. However, I think the test questions are sometimes a little bit difficult, and test2 and test3 should have answers and analysis like test1. It will always be better to review the knowledge you learned after making some mistakes and being eager to know the causes. I love the course!”


Financial Accounting: Foundations—University of Illinois, Champaign

coursera.org/learn/financial-accounting-basics

Discover accounting basics, which effectively teaches you to manage your finances as you would a business.

“The Course is very practical. I really appreciate the practice quizzes since they allow me time to have a greater understanding of each lectured session. A very good course that I would recommend to anyone who desires to improve or refresh their knowledge of the principles that were explained in all the modules.”


The Art of Negotiation—University of California, Irvine

coursera.org/learn/art-of-negotiation

Learn important negotiation strategy, which could lead to more significant earning and greater wealth.

Review: “Very informative and useful course.“


Financial Literacy—Macquarie University

open2study.com/courses/financial-literacy

Gain a fundamental understanding of the basics: managing debt, savings, avoiding investment scams, and more.

Review: “This class is great for a very basic introduction to Financial Literacy. It gives you the framework from which to build a financial plan for your life including learning how to save, how to create a budget, and how to invest. It is not a very in-depth course, which is the only downfall to it, and it only takes probably an hour an a half for each week of work. But Professor Mordaunt is concise and at times entertaining.”


Securing Investment Returns in the Long Run—University of Geneva

coursera.org/learn/investment-returns-long-run

Identifying the difference between active and passive investing, and provide insights on ROI.

Review: “This course deals mainly with the topic of evaluating the performance of investments and uses the outcomes to discuss the benefits of active and passive funds. Measures are introduced to evaluate the risk-adjusted returns of investments. In addition, evaluation tools for the performance of active managers are presented. The videos are of great quality. The quizzes could be more challenging.”

If you’re interested in learning more? Please visit Coursera and Open2Study.com.