Financial Education From FINRA

Navigating finances can be difficult: you have to know about budgets, interest rates, mortgage calculators, IRA’s, 401k’s, durable power of attorney documents…the list can seem endless.

Thankfully the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has a helpful way to educate everyone in these matters and more. FINRA.org explains in their “About FINRA” page that they are…

“…dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation of broker-dealers.

FINRA is not part of the government. We’re a not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress to protect America’s investors by making sure the broker-dealer industry operates fairly and honestly.

So, in that spirit they have created a detailed, free educational resource to help consumers, even those who may not be investors per se, navigate just about every conceivable financial situation.

When you visit the FINRA Investor Education Foundation you will find the following setup:

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Since that type is a bit small, let me just tell you that each of the fifteen boxes you see here link to a detailed tutorial on a particular financial subject. The fifteen subjects are as follows:

  • Managing Money
  • Banking & Saving
  • Credit
  • Home Ownership
  • Education
  • Insurance
  • How to Invest
  • Investments
  • Retirement
  • Social Security
  • Kids and Money
  • Difficult Times
  • Protection
  • Getting Help
  • Estate Planning

Each training is self-paced, full of helpful information and may even be paused and completed at a later time. All you have to do to participate is sign up for a free account, choose the course you want to try, then follow the links. The program leads you through the process at the pace you desire.

 

 

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Oxford Research Encyclopedias

http://oxfordre.com/

If you are researching an unfamiliar topic and seek peer-reviewed material, the Oxford Research Encyclopedias may be a good resource.  From the site:

“The OREs offer long-form overview articles written and edited by leading scholars and researchers, addressing both foundational and cutting-edge topics across the major disciplines. Oxford University Press is developing this program in response to a growing need for reliable information to be used at the start of serious research on an unfamiliar topic.

Designed to inform academic research at all levels, the Oxford Research Encyclopedias will be a constantly growing and evolving reference source. Each subject goes beyond the basic facts to contextualize topics within existing scholarship and help pave the way to deeper engagement and inquiry.”

Several different subject areas are covered, from African History to Religion, and from the link above you search the topic on the right hand side of the site.  Once you choose a link you are directed to an entire site dedicated in great detail to the topic.  One drawback to the site is that some of the information may only be accessed via subscription, though there is some free content as well.

Automated Clearing House Number Look Up

http://abanumberlookup.com/

What if a check you have received has no identifying bank name? There is a way to look it up under its routing transit number. This is a nine digit bank code used in the United States that is on the bottom left side of a check. From Wikipedia, “The RTN (routing transit number) is also used by Federal Reserve Banks to process Fedwire funds transfers, and by the Automated Clearing House to process direct deposits, bill payments, and other such automated transfers.” This can also be called the ABA number, or the American Banking Association number.

From the website, “The Automated Clearing House, commonly called ACH, is a network of financial institutions that carry out 98% of the electronic transactions in the United States.” The Automated Clearing House website provides a way to look up routing transit numbers to find out where a check or fund transfer came from. Just type in the nine digit code into the search box. The website will then list the bank, along with its address.  If you then click on “browse listings” at the bottom of the webpage, a list of institutions will come up. Click on the first letter of the institution to bring it up and get its ACH services phone number.

Consumer Price Index

http://www.nhes.nh.gov/elmi/statistics/cpi-data.htm

A site from the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security that also provides the U.S. Consumer Price Index. The figures are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics official Consumer Price Index site. The figures have been manipulated in Excel to provide a table from 1990 until now, both monthly and annually.

Prices and Spending in the U.S.

http://www.bls.gov/opub/focus/

Focus on Prices and Spending is a sequence of reports from the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.  From these quarterly reports you can see the trends in spending and inflation in the ecomony of the United States.  The reports use information from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the Consumer Price Index, and the Producer Price Index.

National Information Center (NIC)

www.ffiec.gov/nicpubweb/nicweb/nichome.aspx

From the site: “The National Information Center (NIC) is a central repository of data about banks and other institutions for which the Federal Reserve has a supervisory, regulatory, or research interest, including both domestic and foreign banking organizations operating in the United States. This web site provides access to NIC data, allowing the public to search for detailed information about banking organizations.”