Make Sense of Your Dollars: Waco’s Free Financial Academy

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Ardent Authors Photo

Jason Lavender

Ardent Authors Photo

Jason Lavender

Jason Lavender

Jason Lavender

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This week, we’re explaining the “why” behind one of our most accessible TFNB Your Bank for Life services: Financial EDGE Academy.

Getting an education used to mean scribbling notes in a classroom or lecture hall. This year showed us, however, that education can take place anywhere — as long as you have a steady WiFi connection and a desire to learn. While social distancing and economic uncertainty continue, TFNB’s free, virtual financial academy is more valuable than ever. Financial EDGE Academy doesn’t require registration or admission fees. It’s open to anyone and everyone in Central Texas (and beyond).

You can access tutorials on topics like:

  • saving for retirement
  • becoming a financial caregiver
  • buying a home
  • utilizing credit cards

Averaging just three to five minutes, each topic is simple to cover even with a busy schedule. From your couch or kitchen table, our online course can empower you with the confidence you need to make the best decisions for your family in 2020 and in the future.

Here’s the thing: if you struggle to understand annual percentage yield, balk at filing your taxes, or even second-guess your understanding about retirement saving, you’re not alone. You’re in good (and growing) company. 

Through the annual Financial Capability Study, financial researchers have seen a pretty significant decline in financial literacy over the past nine years in America. In 2009, 42 percent of respondents achieved an 80 percent score or higher on a survey covering basic concepts of economics and personal finance. By 2018, this number had dropped to 34 percent. The study also showed fewer than 33 percent of adults truly understand basic financial topics by age 40 — even though they’ve likely made many important financial decisions by that point.

Want to see how you stack up? Take the survey here for yourself.

What’s more surprising? Despite the evidence, many Americans still feel confident in their financial understanding. About 71 percent of survey respondents had a high self-assessment of their financial knowledge. However, when put into practice, 59 percent could not complete two simple interest rate and inflation calculations and 38 percent could not calculate the compound interest of debt.

Unfortunately, a lack of understanding isn’t the end of the story. Many Americans regularly worry about the costs of healthcare, taxes, their mortgage, and saving for retirement. They stress over making ends meet without always understanding how to put a plan in place to do it.

As local bankers in Central Texas, we witness a lot of these facts and statistics face-to-face in our daily work. We talk to parents, small business owners, retirees, and young professionals who are worried about their finances and have questions about what steps to take. 

We enjoy offering guidance (after all, taking care of customers is our passion!), but we know not everyone stops by our bank for help. Often, people feel embarrassed by not knowing what questions to ask, or simply by asking too many questions. They instead attempt to muddle through and find a solution on their own. While we would love to help, we understand why some people are reluctant to ask for help.

Our experiences illuminated the need for free, simple-to-understand financial lessons. We knew people needed resources they could turn to whether or not they were ready to talk to a banker. As a result, we invested in Financial EDGE Academy and rolled it out to anyone who wanted to learn more. It’s an anonymous, easy way to learn more about a given topic on your own.Basic Finance 101 for young adults or a great refresh for anyone!

Cover topics such as:

  • Checking accounts 
  • Preventing overdraft 
  • Mobile and online banking 
  • Savings accounts
  • Budgeting
  • Healthy financial behavior
Learn More

Take the next step in money management essentials.

Cover topics such as:

  • Identity protection
  • Budgeting
  • Credit scores
  • Debt management
  • Taxes
Learn More

Discover how to finance your next home and what hidden costs to expect.

Cover topics such as:

  • Mortgages
  • Reverse mortgages
  • Investment property
  • Refinancing
Learn More

Dream about starting a small business?

Dive into topics like:

  • Developing a business plan
  • Banking services 
  • Financial statements
  • Obtaining/using business credit
Learn More

Figure out how to get on the right track to retire in comfort.

Cover topics like:

  • 401(k) plans
  • IRAs
  • Social security 
  • Estate planning 
  • Wealth transfers
Learn More

We didn’t limit access to Financial EDGE Academy through fees or registration limits because everyone deserves to understand all the financial facts before putting their money on the line. 

Many predatory lenders rely on consumers not reading the fine print or not understanding the full implications of a financial tool. It’s a dishonest and short-sighted approach. At TFNB, our long history in the Central Texas community means we think about finances very differently. Because we bank with our neighbors and friends, we want them to be fully informed about every financial decision they make. We know from experience that when people understand how they can best (and most strategically) use their money they experience less stress and more long-term financial satisfaction. If you’re someone who feels embarrassed or nervous about visiting with a banker, we’re here to reassure you that our team is never here to judge. We’re here to help. We help people in every life stage at all levels of income and financial understanding.

No matter where you are in your financial journey, we’re ready to meet you there. 

Please check out our Financial EDGE Academy if you’d like to learn more on your own. When you’re ready to start asking questions and mapping out your financial future, we’re just a call away.

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