Personal Finance

Part One: Employer Sponsored Retirement Plans (10 points)

In Assignment #2, you identified investment choices as a new employee at MSU. Now let’s take a look at MSU’s retirement plan and assess its strengths and weaknesses.

As you have learned in this unit, employer retirement plans can vary drastically among workplaces. Some employer plans are very generous, while others are not. This part of the assignment asks you to review MSU’s retirement plan, again as a theoretical new employee of MSU.  MSU is very transparent about the type of benefits that it offers to its employees. As a result, it is a good example to analyze as you start to develop a basis for what you want to look for in a future retirement plan.

Step One:  Review the attached chart which provides a breakdown of what MSU offers. It is located here at: https://www.hr.msu.edu/benefits/benefits_docs/retirementplancomparison.pdf

Step Two: Think about the questions to consider when you are analyzing retirement plans:

  • What type of employer plans are available and who is eligible to participate? If I am eligible, how much can I contribute?
  • Is there employer match? (Will my employer provide money towards my retirement if I put in a certain amount or percentage? If so, how much?)
  • What’s the vesting requirements? (How long do I have to work there to be able to take the money that my employer puts in with me when I leave?)
  • What type of education and/or support services are available if I need guidance and direction?

 

Step Three: Write a reflection analysis that answers the following questions. The length should be, at minimum, one-page, double spaced.

  • What is your general reflection of MSU’s retirement plan? If you were offered a position here, what would be the perceived strengths and weaknesses based on this portion of the benefits package? (5 points)
  • Given what you learned after reviewing MSU’s plan, identify and explain three concepts you need to keep in mind when reviewing prospective employer’s retirement plans. Why are these concepts important? (5 points)

Part Two: Seeking Financial Professionals to Assist

Since this is an applied course, this last assignment will be to practice the financial skills presented in this course and apply them to your life. For this assignment, you need to do the following:

  1. First, think about an area of personal finance that you would like to take action around. For instance, will you…
    • Buy a house in the near future? Or will you be looking to rent an apartment?
    • Need student loans or have a desire for determining your future student loan repayment options?
    • Buy a car and want to understand loan options? Is leasing a good option?
    • In the market for insurance?
    • Want to learn more about completing your own taxes?
    • Want to speak to someone about effectively managing your retirement? Or investing?

Based on your question above, identify the type of personal finance expert that can answer your question.

  1. Then – select one of the following individuals listed below to interview. Contact them (by phone or in person) and conduct a 15-20 minute interview with the individual.
  • Housing Counselor/Realtor: Interview a local housing counselor and/or realtor to better understand the housing market in your community
  • Insurance Professional: Visit an Insurance professional to understand their role with helping consumers
  • Investing/Tax Professional: Interview a financial professional (Financial Planner, Broker, Advisor, CPA, Tax Preparer/Accountant, etc.) to understand their role with helping consumers make sound investing or tax decisions
  • Local Lender: Interview a local lender at a financial institution to better understand local lending options
  • Student Loan Officer: Interview a local student loan officer at the MSU Office of Financial Aid (or another local university) to better understand student loan repayment options
  • Other: If different from the above list, please seek approval from your instructor; please note – family members may be interviewed IF they work as one of the identified financial professionals. For the purpose of this assignment, the individual that you interview must work professionally in one of the identified fields and focus on personal finance topics. Business finance is not personal finance. If you have a question about this, please feel free to contact Dr. Tobe.
  1. Submit via D2L either:
    • A short (approximately 5 minute) video reflection that provides a verbal analysis of your experience OR a two page (double spaced) written analysis describing your experience.
      • If choosing the video, you should provide an overview of your experience by using your own words to describe the experience. Please post your video on MSU Media Space (https://mediaspace.msu.edu/). To access, click on guest and login using your username and password. Then, click on add new and upload a video. You may select that the video as private, unlisted, or public. (Any option is fine). Please provide the link to the video in the D2L dropbox (by clicking on share and copying the web address).
  1. Provide documentation from the financial professional that you completed the interview. This can include:
    • A business card from the individual with signature on it (scanned & placed in D2L)
    • An email confirmation from the financial professional (that is sent to you and a picture of the email is captured in D2L)

Interview Format:

Although the interview format for this assignment is flexible, you must cover, minimally, the following topics:

  • Overview of the Financial Professional (learn a little about the financial professional) – at minimum, should include: Professional’s current job title; area of personal finance they cover
  • Financial Professional Advice (seek advice from their perspective) – at minimum, should include: three take-away messages (in the area of personal finance) that they would give current college students
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