A CPA's biggest piece of advice? Everyone needs to talk about money way more.
True
Ad Council + AICPA

Do you ever wonder where you stand among your peers when it comes to money?

It's safe to say that most — if not all — people are curious as to where they stand.

Kelley Long, CPA/PFS, is a volunteer spokesperson for the Feed the Pig campaign. Safe to say, she spends a lot of time talking to people about money. She sat down with us to offer some of her own perspective when it comes to the youngest generation coming into financial maturity — millennials.


First, the good news: Young people know a lot about money.

"It's really interesting — research shows that the generations after me are much more financially literate than my own," she said.

Long credits this with a lot more access to information and resources on the Internet. Even employers are introducing these concepts to millennial employees, providing counseling and other financial wellness benefits.

In this way, financial literacy is working — people know the right things to do in terms of saving, living within their means, and so on.

Image by Tax Credits/Flickr.

But they're getting in their own way, in two ways.

She explains that there are two problems setting young people up for failure.

First, they're not actually doing the things they know they're supposed to do. And that's because they're entering a new normal when it comes to what financial priorities should be in terms of how much and where.

Living through recessions and financial crises has caused some uncertainty in terms of figuring out how to apply financial literacy to everyday life.

"But the size of the millennial generation is creating a demand for change," says Long. "New business models will be borne out of that."

And as for the second thing? Stressing out.

Long says there needs to be a shift in the way people feel guilty about student loans — yes, she's a financial planner advising people to stop feeling so bad.

Because they're more aware of what an ideal financial situation looks like, a lot of young folks have "unnecessary stress about the present reality."

"It's not that they can't make the payment, it's often just the big number and the fact that they have student debt causing stress," she explains.

High student loans are a big source of stress — but should they be?

"One of the things I coach is that you have to remember that this is an investment you made," says Long. "Every monthly payment is a payment toward your career, much like your mortgage is toward your house, which is often a bigger number and yet people don't freak out about that number!"

"Not all debt is 'bad' debt, some debt is considered 'good' debt!" she says. "If you have it for the right reasons [like getting an education so you can earn money in a career], that's OK. There needs to be a mind shift away from that kind of guilt. If you didn't have the degree your debt bought, where would your finances be then?"

So, if you're worrying about the mere amount of your total student loans but are comfortably able to make the payments — don't stress or feel ashamed.

"They payoff plans are designed to get them paid off [unlike credit card minimum payments] — just make the payments and try to remember it's an investment in your future."

Image by Joshua Poh/Flickr.

She shared three pragmatic tips to help young people get started toward financial health.

First, if you're deciding whether to pay off your loans or put money away, examine your job's 401(k) plan. If they have a matching plan, prioritize it — it's "free money" you're just throwing away otherwise. Then prioritize the loans you have with high interest rates.

If you're looking for a service or consulting company to help you figure out your financial health (such as during this coming tax season), pay attention to any perceptible biases. Think about their motives. If they're selling you stuff right out the gate, they might not have your interests in mind. And if your workplace offers a financial wellness benefit, take advantage of it.

And one pro tip that seems obvious but is great advice: Once you pay off a big debt, keep budgeting the payments but put them into your savings account. Use force of habit for good!

But her biggest piece of advice? Everyone needs to talk about this stuff way more.

"Money is still taboo," says Long. "We all want to know where we stand in comparison to other people, and we use money to buy stuff to make us look rich, but we don't talk about where the money came from. There's this desire to be rich because we don't want to worry about money. But we also tend to have almost a bias against rich people. Like we want to be them, but we also feel disdain for people who appear to be doing well."

"Just talking about it and the ability to be totally honest will help all of us get better about money because we'll realize we're all more alike than we think."


Image by Matus Laslofi/Flickr.

For more resources, check out Feed the Pig!

Feed the Pig is a national public service campaign sponsored by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and The Ad Council. They have tons of resources created specifically for people in their late-20s and early-30s — what a relief!

Image from Feed the Pig.

For instance, you can create a savings plan to help get you on track, get free savings tips, or find an interesting variety of calculators to see how your financial plan actually plays out.

And if you use the program IFTTT — you're in super luck. They just rolled out a bunch of new recipes to incentivize savings in slightly embarrassing or socially motivated ways. If that sounds provocative, it's because it is — be sure to learn more.

Young people may feel lost when it comes to finances, but they don't have to be. And they're already on the right track.

It's just about putting all that knowledge to use. If you know someone who could benefit from a pep talk, why not share some resources and tips? It's all about starting a conversation!

True

In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

via Tom Ward / Instagram

Artist Tom Ward has used his incredible illustration techniques to give us some new perspective on modern life through popular Disney characters. "Disney characters are so iconic that I thought transporting them to our modern world could help us see it through new eyes," he told The Metro.

Tom says he wanted to bring to life "the times we live in and communicate topical issues in a relatable way."

In Ward's "Alt Disney" series, Prince Charming and Pinocchio have fallen victim to smart phone addiction. Ariel is living in a polluted ocean, and Simba and Baloo have been abused by humans.

Keep Reading Show less
True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

It sounds like a ridiculous, sensationalist headline, but it's real. In Cheshire County, New Hampshire, a transsexual, anarchist Satanist has won the GOP nomination for county sheriff. Aria DiMezzo, who refers to herself as a "She-Male" and whose campaign motto was "F*** the Police," ran as a Republican in the primary. Though she ran unopposed on the ballot, according to Fox News, she anticipated that she would lose to a write-in candidate. Instead, 4,211 voters filled in the bubble next to her name, making her the official Republican candidate for county sheriff.

DiMezzo is clear about why she ran—to show how "clueless the average voter is" and to prove that "the system is utterly and hopelessly broken"—stances that her win only serves to reinforce.

In a blog post published on Friday, DiMezzo explained how she had never tried to hide who she was and that anyone could have looked her up to see what she was about, in addition to pointing out that those who are angry with her have no one to blame but themselves:

Keep Reading Show less

Schools often have to walk a fine line when it comes to parental complaints. Diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and preferences for what kids see and hear will always mean that schools can't please everyone all the time, so educators have to discern what's best for the whole, broad spectrum of kids in their care.

Sometimes, what's best is hard to discern. Sometimes it's absolutely not.

Such was the case this week when a parent at a St. Louis elementary school complained in a Facebook group about a book that was read to her 7-year-old. The parent wrote:

"Anyone else check out the read a loud book on Canvas for 2nd grade today? Ron's Big Mission was the book that was read out loud to my 7 year old. I caught this after she watched it bc I was working with my 3rd grader. I have called my daughters school. Parents, we have to preview what we are letting the kids see on there."

Keep Reading Show less