The AICPA and its members continue to be at the forefront of the financial literacy movement with free programs, resources and thousands of CPAs across all 50 states volunteering to help Americans with their financial understanding.
Earlier this year, U.S. consumer debt reached $4 trillion for the first time ever-- with one trillion of that figure consisting of credit card debt alone, also a record high. Debt isn’t inherently bad if you have a plan to pay it off without incurring interest charges. But paying down loans competes with other financial priorities, like saving for retirement and creating an emergency fund. So, it’s no wonder that 40 percent of all Americans can’t cover a $400 financial emergency without borrowing money or selling something. Unfortunately, living paycheck-to-paycheck while struggling to pay off debt and grow their savings account is the reality for many Americans.
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Anyone else feel a tad bit inadequate after watching “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix? If you haven’t heard of the series, during each episode, organizing expert Marie Kondo helps clients clear out clutter in their lives with her KonMari method. Before watching I thought I was a relatively neat person, but now I have a tiny voice in my head yelling, “WOW, STAND THAT UP VERTICALLY, YOU SLOB,” every time I put away laundry.
But enough about me. Let’s talk about how we can apply some of Kondo’s tactics to another aspect of life that may need some work: money.
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Gourmet meals. Luxury villas. Dope music. Private jets. All on a secluded Bahamian island – sounds pretty epic, right?
Fyre Festival, the brainchild of tech entrepreneur Billy McFarland and hip hop artist Ja Rule, was expected to be an out-of-this-world, glamorous music festival. At least that’s how it was sold on social media – until festival-goers arrived on the island to find prepackaged sandwiches instead of celebrity chef-cooked meals, FEMA tents in place of the luxury villas…and no music. Needless to say, no one was happy after dropping up to $12,000 per ticket to be there.
Continue reading "3 personal finance lessons the failed Fyre Festival can teach you" »
Everyone has a friend or relative that is difficult to purchase a gift for. I’m sure you’re thinking of one after reading that sentence! That’s why gift cards are so popular –the person gets to pick out something they know they’ll like. It’s really a win-win situation. However, in recent years, scammers caught wind of the lucrative gift card market and have come up with schemes to target consumers.
AICPA Insights reached out to Howard M. Silverstone, CPA/CFF, a forensic accountant and member of AICPA’s Fraud Task force to learn how Americans can protect themselves from gift card fraud this holiday season.
AICPA Insights: I only recently heard about gift card fraud a few weeks ago. How long has this scam been around?
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Today, the perfect job is about more than the money. Americans want employers to show them the benefits. New original research conducted by The Harris Poll for the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) found that Americans value having a job with benefits more than one with a higher salary. Neal Stern, CPA and member of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, spoke to AICPA Insights about the survey results and shared what you should keep in mind with respect to your own workplace benefits.
According to the survey, Americans are four times as likely to choose a job with benefits over an identical job that offered 30 percent more salary but no benefits. What’s your reaction to this?
Neal Stern: I find it encouraging that so many Americans recognize the value workplace benefits bring to an overall financial plan. Some benefits, like health insurance, protect you from exposure to tremendous expenses that could seriously derail your financial wellness. These benefits often come at a lower cost than what it would take to buy the coverage on your own. This is largely because of employer subsidies and possibly more favorable pricing through a group, which leaves you more breathing room in your monthly budget. Looking beyond the financial benefit of a broad benefits package, it’s hard to over-estimate the value of peace of mind you get from being free of the worry of catastrophic expenses from an accident or illness.
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