Happy Financial Literacy Month; April is the time to reflect on personal finances, strategies to improve our financial literacy, and celebrate past successes. Since we already have an article on ways to improve your financial literacy, I decided to catch up with some of our advisors in the office to see how they incorporate it in their daily lives. After discussing why financial knowledge is so important, an overall theme became apparent: start early and be diligent.


Coming straight from our advisors, they discuss how they incorporate financial literacy in their family, common misconceptions, and suggestions on how people can improve their financial literacy.


Jason Eliason, advisor at Waller FinancialJason Eliason, CFP®, ChFC®, CFA®


How do you incorporate financial literacy in your daily lives with family?

Ruth also has a strong financial background. She worked for more than 15 years in personal and corporate banking and has an undergraduate degree in economics management, which makes things a little easier. She does a great job of running the household finances and working with our kids about the value of money. When we explain to our friends how we manage our money, Ruth handles today and I take care of tomorrow.


The kids have certain chores they complete each week; some chores they are paid and some of which they just have to do as a member of the family. Of the money they earn each week, some of it has to be set aside for savings, some for college, and the rest they can have as spending money. I told our oldest child, Jacob, if he saved up $500, he could open an investment account, which he was able to do. This gives us the opportunity to talk about how investing works. At least once a week, he asks me how his investments are doing!


Ruth also found a great personal finance book targeted toward middle and high schoolers. It is called “What All Kids (and Adults too) Should Know About Saving and Investing.”


What is a common misconception about personal finances you hear about?

A common misconception I hear a lot is “I can’t afford to save.” You just need to start small; make savings a monthly expense, much like a cellphone bill. Everyone has a cellphone bill, and they would not easily give that up. Saving to build up an emergency fund or retirement account should be held in the same regard… you can’t live without it. Along the same lines, I am surprised at how often people, especially young people, do not save enough money into their company-sponsored retirement plan to get the full employer matching contribution…it’s free money they are passing on…completely crazy!


Do you have any suggestions/advice on how people can improve their financial literacy?

Start now and take small steps; start by not getting yourself into a bad position. Do not spend money on a credit card unless you have the money to pay it off each month. Do not spend more on eating out in a month than you save. Many times people are trying to get themselves out of a bad position when they are ready to start learning about financial matters. There are several resources to help you, as well as significant online sources. Read books on personal finance, listen to finance podcasts, read financial periodicals, or get a library card. The CFP Board website, www.letsmakeaplan.org, has several different resources under the “learning center” tab based on where you are in life.


Kathy Kincaid, advisor at Waller Financial

Kathy Kincaid, CFP®


Our family is like many others with one person in charge of everything financially related. This system tends to be efficient, but lacks when it comes to financial education for the other partner. That is why I try to have a conversation with Rob, at least annually, to discuss our situation. If I’m being honest, in our early years I think he was only pretending to listen! However, now that we are middle age and retirement isn’t in the far distance, he is starting to pay attention. He enjoys watching the time value of money and understands the importance now of saving early and often.


Rob and I both made some financial mistakes in our college years. That is why we feel it is essential to instill financial knowledge in our children early in life. Our daughter Maddie is 12 and earns money by doing chores around the house. She is paid per chore, which is what I prefer because it shows her how hard work pays off. On payday, Maddie is required to separate her money into three categories:  savings (10%), charitable gifts (10%), and spending money (80%). Maddie is a quick learner, and after the first week, she decided to increase her savings to 50% and decrease her spending money to 40%, while keeping her charitable donations at 10%.


Although our son Elliott’s physical challenges keep him from doing chores, he is still responsible for helping us with his personal care such as brushing his teeth and getting dressed. For now, he accepts payment in high fives, hugs, and kisses, but I’m sure it won’t be long until his financially-savvy sister points out he is significantly underpaid!


Jason Farris, advisor at Waller FinancialJason Farris, CFP®, CAP®


How do you incorporate financial literacy in your daily lives with family?

Our oldest son is 4 years old, and there are two themes we try to incorporate in our daily lives: 1) Do not be wasteful  2) Rewards are earned. Abby and I feel if we establish these two values in our son at an early age much of the lessons about finances will fall into place.


What is a common misconception about personal finances you hear about? 

A common misconception is underestimating the need to start saving at an early age. It is challenging to put yourself in a sound financial position following years of procrastination. Many investors believe they will have more cash flow in the following years. But life’s circumstances are constantly changing and it’s unlikely your savings rate will increase by happenstance.


Do you have any suggestions/advice on how people can improve their financial literacy?

I believe having as much exposure, and dialogue about money are essential. Whether be through reading, conversations or listening, I encourage individuals to indulge their curiosity about money. You don’t necessarily need to read a textbook to improve your financial literacy. Currently, I enjoy listening to various podcasts about finances. The current show I am listening to is “How to Money.” The hosts are funny, informative, craft-beer drinkers, and the show often sparks my curiosity to review a client situation or my own.


Chris Olsgard, Jason Farris, advisor at Waller FinancialChris Olsgard, CFP®


How do you incorporate financial literacy in your daily lives with family?

My wife and I firmly believe our children need to understand the value of a dollar and develop fiscal responsibility.  This doesn’t just mean taking care of yourself, but also those who are less fortunate.  We try to be as open as possible with them about our financial situation; although, they are still a little young to understand most of it at this point.  We are hopeful that our strong financial habits will help them develop healthy financial habits of their own someday.


What is a common misconception about personal finances you hear about? 

Many people wrongly believe it takes a large salary to accumulate wealth.  I have worked with plenty of people over the years who have embraced the concept of saving first and living off what is left.  This may be easier for those with larger incomes, but it is not impossible for those with less.  I’ve found that when people can see how a plan will play out over a period of years, they are more likely to forego some current enjoyment in favor of greater financial stability in the future.  It is important to see how today’s sacrifices can lead to a better tomorrow.


Do you have any suggestions/advice on how people can improve their financial literacy?

For anyone who would like to improve their financial literacy, I highly recommend the following books.  None of the books below are overly technical, yet they provide anyone willing to read them with invaluable insights:

  • The Millionaire Next Door – Thomas J. Stanley
  • The Little Book of Common Sense Investing – John (Jack) C. Bogle
  • The Essays of Warren Buffet – Warren E. Buffett
  • Money, Master the Game – Tony Robbins