Thursday, April 15, 2021

Miscellaneous Insights From Recent Webinars


As I have mentioned frequently in previous blog posts, I love learning new things and often attend webinars to gain knowledge and/or continuing education credits for my CFP® and AFC® as well as connect virtually with others.


Below, in no particular order and on a wide variety of topics, are eight “nuggets” that I heard at recent webinars:


¨      Memes in Financial Education- Memes (pronounced “meems”) are a piece of media- often humorous- that spreads rapidly through the internet, particularly social media. They are a fun and useful financial education method to spark students’ creativity and recall of topics. As Next Gen Personal Finance noted in a recent webinar, teachers can provide memes, have students write financial captions for them, and debrief the activity.


¨      Professional Brands Take Planning- Professional brands are what people are known for or stand for. If you don’t shape your own personal narrative, someone else will. Successful branding requires paying attention to audiences (e.g., what tasks do they need performed or questions answered?), competitors, and social media profiles, especially LinkedIn. Search engine yourself to see what others are seeing about you.

¨      Financial Education Teaches Decision-Making- A key outcome of personal finance classes is teaching learners to make good choices. This is much more important than memorizing facts or definitions. Students don’t need to have a lot of money to put financial education to use. Rather, educators need to meet people where they are and give them tools to navigate their life. Every small win that “moves the needle” is progress.

¨      Imposter Syndrome is Common- Many people experience feelings that they are “not good enough” or “not qualified enough,” which decreases their self-confidence. Imposter syndrome can be overcome, however. The antidote is embracing the fact that you will not- and cannot-know everything. You do not need to know all the answers about particular topics. Rather, you simply need to know where to look or who to contact to find them.

¨      Working From Home and Taxes- Many employees worked away from their employer’s office in 2020 (at home or another remote location) and may owe income tax in two states. They also incurred expenses to set up an office and purchase supplies. While workers may feel that they are owed a tax break for these cash outlays, a Wall Street Journal webinar repeatedly stressed that there is no home office deduction for 100% employees. Only self-employed workers and those with “side hustles” can take a deduction using Schedule C.

¨      Day Trading and Income Taxes- People who traded stock frequently during 2020 can expect complex tax returns this tax season with multiple short-term capital gains on securities that were held a year or less. Short-term gains are taxed at the same rate as ordinary income. Tax returns also now have a very prominently-located question on Form 1040, which is signed under penalty of perjury, about taxpayers’ use of cryptocurrencies.


¨      Gambling and Personal Finance- Gambling has the highest suicide rate of any addiction according to Dr. Lia Nower from the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University. People can generally hide it longer before they “crash and burn.” Insurance does not pay for gambling addiction unless it is comorbid with something else (e.g., depression). Youth gambling rates are generally twice the general adult population and problems peak at 18-24. Parents should “de-glamorize” gambling (e.g., don’t buy lottery tickets as “stocking stuffer” gifts).

¨      Ticking Time Bomb” Retirement Accounts- Some people funded retirement savings plans for decades and they have grown substantially. However, traditional individual retirement account (IRA) and 401(k) or 403(b) savings is technically not all theirs. They may only really have two-thirds (or less) of what they think they have after required minimum distributions (RMDs) starting at age 72. It may make sense for those with significant savings to pay some tax at an earlier age at lower tax rates. Qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) from traditional IRAs are another tax-saving option. With advance planning, retirees can help control their tax rate.

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