With more college graduates piling up debts, an increasingly popular program on campus is trying to help them stay out of trouble.
More than 600 colleges are now enrolled in the National Endowment for Financial Education’s (NEFE) online program, so they can offer free assistance to four-year and community college students. CashCourse is a sort of private-label personal finance program: each academic institution puts its logo and school colors on NEFE’s online package of cash- and debt-management tools, tips, and workshops.
The University of California, the University of Texas, Purdue University, and State University of New York are among the schools posting NEFE’s materials to their websites or customizing financial programs to meet their students’ unique needs.
“We want every school to figure out what works for them,” said Ted Beck, NEFE’s chief executive.
Leticia Gradington, program director for Kansas University’s program, said it’s not unusual for students to have $20,000 to $30,000 in college loans and credit card debts.
“You’ve got students every day who are worrying about how they’re going to pay their debt back,” she said. If students can learn just how expensive the debt is before they borrow, “They pay more attention to it.” …Learn More
The impact of today’s purchasing decisions on how much money you’ll have years from now, in retirement, can be abstract. Putnam Investments’ new iPhone app does the math for you.
This Putnam video uses the example of an HDTV that costs $1,738: save that money instead and earn an additional $44.18 per month in retirement. That’s enough for a dash to the grocery store or an evening at the movies.
Putnam’s senior Web executive, David Nguyen, called it a “smart app,” because it allows users to tailor the assumptions that drive the calculations. For example, the app takes into account the user’s age, and it assumes the money not spent will earn investment income until you’re 65 years old (that targeted retirement age can also be changed). The investment returns mirror the individual returns for each user’s asset allocation.
Phone apps are proliferating, and there are lots of cool new ones for every financial need and age group, including children. Putnam’s app is pretty popular. The Boston mutual fund company said about 1,000 people have downloaded its new PriceCheck&Save application from Apple’s iPhone store since its June 6 release.
Unfortunately, it’s available only to those whose 401(k)s are managed by Putnam, though the company is working on an unrestricted app.
If Putnam doesn’t, someone else surely will.Learn More
That’s what Fidelity Investments hopes baby boomers will conclude about its “Income Strategy Evaluator,” which may be the first online calculator that proposes how individuals should invest their nest egg to ensure it will last through retirement.
There are numerous calculators online to help working individuals tally how much money they will need to accumulate for their retirement, including “Target Your Retirement,” which was created by Boston College’s Financial Security Project, this blog’s host.
But the strategy for withdrawing from that nest egg during retirement “is very different than the accumulation discussion,” said Chris McDermott, Fidelity’s senior vice president of financial planning. That discussion requires individuals to answer the questions, “What do you want and how much can you get out of your assets?” …Learn More
Susan Beacham’s company has sold nearly one million of its piggy bank with four slots – for spending, saving, donating, and investing. She has now developed an iPhone application based on the iconic pig.
Children who use the clear blue piggy bank like to watch their money clink to the bottom of one of the four separate sections in the pig’s innards. Beacham has developed an entire curriculum around the four choices. The Money Savvy Pig has been adopted as a teaching tool by more than 200 Chicago public schools and by school systems in Seattle, North Dakota, Europe, and elsewhere.
The idea behind the game app, called “Savings Spree,” is the same: to help children “strengthen the muscle of choice and, therefore, their self-regulation and self-control,” said Beacham, chief executive of Money Savvy Generation Inc., a small, mission-driven company employing four people. …
The secret to D2D’s success in luring players to its financial video games starts with the $150,000 it spends to design each game with MIT researchers and an award-winning Web designer.
But the Boston non-profit puts just as much emphasis – and an undisclosed amount of funding from The Wal-Mart Foundation – into distributing the games.
D2D has used an e-mail blitz to 100,000 community college students in Indiana and hosted game competitions in city neighborhoods in Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, New York, and Maryland. It partners with large employers, financial companies, state governments, and the military – organizations it recruits to promote the games to its employees, clients, or members. New products aimed at distribution include Spanish-language games and apps for the iPad and Droid.
D2D’s five games have attracted a combined total of 106,000 unique visits since the first and most popular one, Celebrity Calamity, came out a year ago. That’s not quite in league with, say, Disney, which has had 750,000 visitors to its Great Piggy Bank Adventure and an Epcot exhibit in Orlando backing it up, according to T. Rowe Price, the mutual fund company that collaborated with Disney on the game. …Learn More
A new game on the Web – Spent – is a compelling way to experience the impossible choices the poor must make every day about money.
Spent was created by Urban Ministries of Durham in North Carolina, which operates a food pantry, clothing closet, and homeless shelter; and a local advertising firm, McKinney. The game gets its point across so well because McKinney interviewed the ministry’s clients and translated their real-world predicaments.
The challenge: players must get to the end of the month without depleting their small paychecks on routine bills and unexpected expenses. So, your child is invited to a birthday party, but you cannot afford the $5 gift. Do you send your child to the party without a gift, make her stay home, or buy the gift anyway – and risk running out of money? …Learn More