Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Key Take-Aways From FinCon 2019

Last week, I attended the 9th annual FinCon conference. While primarily designed to foster participant networking and content creation skills, FinCon also contained personal finance updates. Below are my five key take-aways for consumers:


¨      Keynoter Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, discussed prioritizing spending and encouraged attendees to spend lavishly on things that they love (if affordable) and cut out things that they do not. He also encouraged spending to create magical experiences, lifelong memories, and a rich life. Later, a documentary film about people trying to increase their savings and reduce expenses to reach financial independence by middle age, recommended that individuals and couples make a list of things that make them happy to help set spending priorities.


¨      A panel of speakers discussed overcoming the financial effects of different types of adversity (i.e., “when things don’t go right”). One panelist noted that people do not change unless the pain of changing (e.g., overcoming an addiction) is less than the pain of staying where they are now. People can-and do- change when given support and a chance.

¨      Most people select credit cards because interest rates are low and/or rewards programs are lucrative. Recent industry trends include more credit card issuers targeting “near prime” consumers with less than stellar credit scores to expand their customer base and several creditors experimenting with daily or weekly rewards for credit card use.


¨      A speaker from one of the “Big Three” credit reporting agencies, Experian, noted that they do not include civil judgments, unpaid taxes, tax liens, library fines, and parking tickets in credit reports. They also hold medical debt information for 180 days to make sure that it is not due to a billing error or a late insurance payment. Experian also has a program, called Boost, where consumers can voluntarily give them permission to have positive utility, cell phone, and cable television payment information included in their credit history.


¨      CNBC Senior Personal Finance Correspondent, Sharon Epperson, who suffered a brain aneurysm and was out of work for a year, encouraged attendees to prepare for unexpected events that can lead to disability or even death. Specific strategies that were mentioned included adequate health and disability insurance, estate planning documents (will, living will, and durable power of attorney), and automated bill paying. She also encouraged attendees to stop and think about their daily schedule of activities. “It should not take a traumatic event to make you stop and prioritize,” she noted.

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