Take-Aways from the AFCPE Symposium

Last week, I attended the annual Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE) Symposium for financial educators and counselors. Below are five key take-aways that resonated with me:

  • Brent Neiser from the National Endowment for Financial Education noted that America has a weight problem: a growing stack of financial “to-dos” (tasks). He encouraged attendees to set meaningful and attainable goals, cut options to a manageable number, take small actions toward goals, and automate actions (e.g., saving for retirement) where possible so that financial tasks are accomplished. Then celebrate “wins” and learn and repeat.
     
  • A session on gambling by Cooperative Extension educators in Minnesota noted that those who gamble at a young age are more susceptible to gambling problems later in life. Studies reveal a later onset of gambling for women (age 32.4) vs. men (age 20.4). However, once gambling, women progress to having a gambling disorder twice as fast as men.
     
  • Credit counselor Todd Christensen noted that income is not directly or indirectly factored into a person’s credit score. If people use credit wisely, regardless of their income, they can have a high credit score. In addition, checking your own credit, through one of the credit bureaus or www.AnnualCreditReport.com, has no effect on your credit score.
     
  • Financial counselor Diana Yacob noted that “You can change the course of someone’s life with your words.” Professionals in personal finance (or any industry) can check the simplicity of their messaging with the Simple Writer web site: https://xkcd.com/simplewriter/ which encourages use of the 1,000 most common words in the U.S.
     
  • Speakers from Financial Empowerment Centers led a workshop about savings counseling and noted that people who have a reason to save, save more money. Their pilot study of a financial counseling program found that the most common savings behavior that people had was to physically separate their spending money and savings.