Part V: Crossing the Finish Line – Financial Fitness by Dr. Joan E. Leichter Dominick

Part V: Crossing the Finish Line – Financial Fitness by Dr. Joan E. Leichter Dominick

Financially Fit Checklist:

Get Out of Debt

Stay out of Debt

Pay Yourself First
Save 10% of Gross Paycheck

Save 3-6 Months Income

Get into Debt for Housing,
Education, Health

Pay Cash for your Car

Keep a Current Copy
Of your Credit Report


Steps to achieving Financial Security:

Here are four general financial areas that affect your financial security. Answer the
following questions in as much detail as possible. Try to discover how you approach your
management of money in your daily life.


1. How do you earn your money? 2. How do you spend money? 3. How do you save
money? 4. How do you invest money?

What did you learn about yourself from answering these questions? Here are some web
sources that should provide the needed information to assist you in finding the answers to
achieving financial security. Let’s review the questions and examine the suggested
websites that will assist you:

1. How do you earn money?

Learning how to negotiate a salary, stock options, retirement options, getting a
raise are some of the very important skills that can guarantee financial security.
For more information refer to chapter 3.9 Choosing the Right Offer and Salary
Negotiation. has a great guide to negotiating salary
compensation.Go to

If you want to take a tutorial on negotiating salary and compensation packages,
Consult the Website recommended by one of the career counselors at my
university entitled Quintessential Careers: Salary Negotiation Tutorial.
The student in my Senior-Year Experience Seminar gave it an academic thumb’s
up. Here is the address:

If your new career involves relocating, consult some of the many Website available to
help you with this financial decision. Check in with, their
salary calculator is a great tool for making the best decision of moving for a career.

If you want to calculate the cost of a move for a career, use their calculator

2. How do you spend money?

Tracking how you spend money is an important step towards financial security.
Living below your income and saving at least 10% of your income each payday
guarantees debt-free living. If you chose to use credit cards, pick the ones you
must pay off monthly. If you can’t afford to do that, be judicious in picking
a credit card, which has the lowest rate, a fixed rate, and no fee for using the card. provides a great site for information on spending your money.

This site provides information on creating a personal budget, buying a home,
home equity loans, purchasing a car, and selecting a credit card.


The latest information on deciding on a credit card is provided on the consumer
page of the Federal Reserve Board Website.
Consult their page entitled Shop: the credit card you pick can save you money:


Before you spend a penny, consult the Website of the nationally known champion
of consumer spending, Mr. Clark Howard.

Keep a current copy of your credit report. Your credit report impacts buying a
home, car, establishing more credit, and some employers will check your credit
report. If you haven’t established credit yet, be aware that a credit report is kept
on you. Periodically get a copy for your credit records.
Equifax is one company that will provide you with a credit report. Consult their

To exclude your name from Consumer Report Agencies (CRA) unsolicited credit
and insurance offers, call 1-888-567-8688. To locate the Federal Agency that
supervises Consumer Report Agencies, contact the Federal Trade Commission’s
Website that houses the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA):

For counseling on credit, consult the National Foundation for Credit Counseling t
1-800-388-2227 for consult their Website at:

College Exit.Com provides resource information about how you look financially
leaving college. Check out the financial links on:

Smart Money University is a great financial wealth of advice for those beginning
their careers. If you want to take control of your financial life, consult:

3. How do you save money?

Saving at least 10% of your gross income is the suggested formula for ensuring
financial security. There are many great websites that address the importance of
saving money. Don’t forget, another way to save is to be a wise consumer.
For saving your income, use the following websites:

Tips on saving your income:

Clark Howard offers tips on being a wise consumer ranging from buying a house,
getting insurance, to the tips on saving money:

Consider using Legal Contracts when lending your personal savings.
Consult the text: The Legal Form Kit. Consult the following Website
Which explains and sells this text:

4. How do you invest money?

Learning how to invest your money for short-term and long-term gain is a skill
that should be mastered for fiscal fitness. How to invest? Where to invest? What
is the Dow Jones? What is the NASDAC? What is a Roth account? What is a

Here are some places to begin:

Get friendly with the Federal Reserve! Follow what Allen Greenspan is saying
about interest rates. Get financially fit by reading what the Federal Reserve is

To keep regular tabs on the Federal Reserve consult:

To stay fiscally fit, check how the stock market is doing on a regular basis. Make
it a regular part of your exercise program to stay in fiscal shape!

Go to the sources of economic health, the Dow Jones Company tracks the
economic stock health of blue chip companies.
Consult their company homepage at:

The NASDAQ Company tracks the economic stock health of the technology
Consult their company homepage at:

For the past thirty years, Louis Rukeyser has been providing public education on
investing money on his hit PBS show Wall $treet Week. He now has a new show
on CNBC entitled Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street. Keep in touch with his weekly
forecasts for the Dow and NASDAC. Also appearing on the show are leaders in
the financial community, all of whom, provide updates and advice on financial
issues. Louis Rukeyser provides a weekly financial debriefing for his audience
interpreting the fiscal fitness of the stock market.

To contact Louis Rukeyser go to:

A great book for understanding stock investments is Beating the Street by Peter
Lynch. His great advice that I use is to buy stock in the companies you use.
Try it you might like it!

A fiscally fit global citizen spends time checking on the international financial
health of the rest of the world. The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and
Development tracks global economics, growth, health, education, electronic
commerce, international development, agriculture, and much more.
To be a fiscally fit global citizen read:


Take a tip from a famous ancient Greek philosopher:
“I am not an Athenian nor a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”

Think about your money globally and act locally!

II. Steps to achieving Financial Serenity:

Financial Serenity is coming to peace with the role that money plays in your life.

Whether you have more month than money or more money than month, you have
got to work towards achieving financial serenity.

Financial feelings are one of the last societal taboos. How money makes you feel
powerful and protected when there is plenty, and powerless and unsafe when it is
scarce is an important topic to explore to begin understanding the connection between
financial serenity and security for you. Take time to reflect on the role finances play in
your life. Graduation from college is a great transitional time to think about your
financial feelings. There are many available resources for achieving the goal of
financial serenity.

Consult the following resources for exploring your financial feelings:

In her book Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach presents a great plan for financial

Suzie Orman, the financial motivator, helps you trace your feelings towards money from
childhood. Orman provides a plan of action for changing your financial attitudes.
Consult her homepage:

Lewis Walker, past President of the Institute of Certified Investment Management
Consultants and the Institute for Certified Financial Planners, wrote a great life letter to
the Class of 2001 that focuses on financial serenity. Check out his letter posted in Money

There is a great Website from Canada entitled Financial Serenity…the financial site for
people who want more than just money…
Check out this great resource:

Special acknowledgements and thanks to Bob Bryan, Jr. for his
seasoned advice and insights on matters of finance. He generously
guided this chapter which teaches how to pursue financial fitness.

Suggested Reading:

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy. Thomas J.
Stanley and William D. Danko. (1996) Longstreet Press: Atlanta, Georgia.

Die Broke: A Radical, Four-Part Financial Plan. Stephen M. Pollan and Mark
Levine. (1997) Harper Business: New York, New York.

Beating the Street. Peter Lynch. (1994). Simon & Schuster: New York, New York.

The Motley Fool You Have More Than You Think: The Foolish Guide to Personal
Finance. David Gardner and Tom Gardner. (2000). Simon & Schuster: New York. |

In closing, a great book to help you achieve financial serenity is by Brooke M. Stephens
Wealth Happens One Day At A Time: 365 Days to a Brighter Financial Future. (2000)
Harper Business: New York, New York. Enjoy!

Activity Exercise Worksheet: Becoming Financially Fit
Exercise One: Reflecting on your Financial Fitness

1. What have you learned from researching the financial information on earning,
spending, saving, and investing your money?

2. What steps are you going to take to achieve financial security?

3. Have you decided to live on a budget? Is so, when will you begin? What is your
plan of action?

4. Have you committed to living below your earnings, thus enabling you to save?
It is recommended that you have three to six months income saved. What are
your plans for starting your savings plan?

5. What steps are you going to take to achieve financial serenity?

6. How are you going to protect your credit? When will your order your
Credit Report?

7. How are you going to make your money work for you?

8. What are your plans to pay yourself first?

9. If you are in debt, how do you plan to get out of this situation?

10. What are your plans for giving fiscally back to the world?

Exercise Two: Planning Your Post-University Fiscal Fitness Plan






Exercise Three: Want to learn about how you handle money with other
people? Play the game of Monopoly.

Consider playing the game of Monopoly with your colleagues to discover how each feel
about money, commerce, and competition. This game is a great point of discussion for
how we feel about money, handle money, and compete with money.

Hasbro’s famous board game, Monopoly, invented in 1934 during the Depression, by
Charles B. Darrow, the object of the game is to become the wealthiest player through
buying, renting, and selling property. If you play the game with the conscious plan to see
how people feel about money, you will learn plenty about people and their fiscal
behavior. Who is fiscally fit after the game and who isn’t? Discuss the outcome of the
game, what did you learn about yourself and money in the process?

Review the rules of Monopoly with your friends. This is a great exercise to learn about
your level of fiscal fitness. Who has financial security? Who has financial serenity during
the game? Review the rules, play the game, and then debrief what you learned about each
other and especially yourself regarding behavior and finances.

The instructions for this game provide some great discussion on how people handle
money and power. Consult the official Hasbro Website for the rules for Monopoly:

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