Take care of your finances
Traditionally, Spanish consumers have made their economic and financial decisions based on what a friend or the director of their bank office said. But the financial crisis has shown that today everyone has to understand a minimum on accounts to get to the end of the month
The crisis has shattered the trust that many people had deposited in their bank or savings bank as sole or main adviser for everything related to their money . 55% say they no longer trust their own entity , according to a survey by the consumer organization Ceaccu . And in a country where even university-educated people like doctors or lawyers admit not knowing much about accounts or finances , that means there are a lot of financial orphans , people who do not know what to have in mind or who to ask for an opinion when they have to make economic decisions . For this reason, the voices of those who for decades advocate that financial education in schools is now more common, and workshops on the subject are being organized in secondary schools, associations and professional associations. And there are also more people aware that the world of finance is not just a matter of the banks and the stock market , but it affects their day to day, the money they spend on fixed expenses , the resources they will have when they retire. , what they charge you for paying a receipt or for buying a refrigerator or a car in installments . But after this awareness many do not know what steps to take, how to obtain reliable information or who to ask for advice.
“Finanzasparatodos.es, the internet portal created within the framework of the financial education plan of the Bank of Spain and the CNMV , can help a lot, because it gathers quite intelligible information on how to get to the end of the month, on the different financial products or how invest, and even a financial survival kit, “says Josep Soler , director of the Institute of Finance Studies (IEF). Actually, there are several websites on financial education and home economics , with informative resources, and many others that talk about finance and investment products. But Soler warns that the internet can be dangerous when looking for financial advice. “With financial health the same thing happens as with physical health: if you are sick and you start looking for information on the internet about what happens to you, you run the risk of self-diagnosing and self-medicating, which is not recommended because finances are never generic, depend on your circumstances, you need personalized solutions, “says the director of the IEF. His advice is to look for qualified professionals “just like if you are sick you go to the doctor”.
But outside the banks many people do not know who to turn to. “If you seek advice on a debt issue you can go to a credit intermediary, who must be registered with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to be able to practice; and if you are looking for an investment adviser, it is best to choose one registered as EAFI (financial advisory company) in the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) that sells products from any entity to offer you different alternatives for your needs ” , explains Jordi Paniello , president of the Professional Association of Investment Advisers, Financing and Judicial Experts ( AFI ).
The doubt that assails many consumers is to what extent these advisors are independent. “We could also ask if there are independent doctors, right? If when they send us to do tests, we really need them; What is clear is that the consultant must be required to be transparent, be qualified and tell them who they work for and that they are subject to an ethical code, “says Soler.
Of course, there are consumers who, due to the simplicity of their operations, may not need or can not go to an independent consultant to put their accounts in order or get more out of their savings. Fernando López , responsible for economic issues of Ceaccu, explains that you can always consult with a relative who understands a bit of the subject or with a consumer organization before making any important decision about your money or about a product offered by the bank.
But whether or not you have an advisor and whether or not you have a lot of dealings with the bank, you need basic knowledge about your own income and expenses needs , how to reduce fixed costs, the consequences of financing a purchase, the differences between financial products and others or what to ask before investing to avoid surprises. To contribute to them, ES is launching today a series of eight reports on home economics that will deal with how to detect the waterways of our family budget until when we are interested in changing the mortgage , going through what to look at before opening a bank account or if there are investment alternatives when deposits barely offer interest , among other issues.
The network is full of websites and financial blogs that encourage the reader to solve their problems with money but not all are up to the task. Here we collect some of those selected by the Institut d’Estudis Financers (IEF) in Edufinanciera.com and other resources of consumer organizations.
The website of the CNMV and the Bank of Spain that allows you to learn how to make a domestic budget , classifies the information according to the stages of life, offers investment advice and facilitates tools to do your own calculations for retirement or to decide whether to amortize debt or invest, for example.
A website driven by Santander Financial Institute and professors and economists from various universities that addresses the simplest financial concepts: from the cost of a baby’s first year of life to what insurance is there, how a rent is updated, how taxes affect, what types of bank accounts exist …
A blog by Joan Lanzagorta , personal finance advisor, which addresses concepts related to home economics such as how to spend money, recommends books and helps understand the economic situation.
A website funded by the government of the United Kingdom to teach citizens to make better use of their money. It talks about loans and investment but also about the impact of the birth of a child or a divorce. It is in English and the issues related to pensions or administrative procedures are only applicable to the British.
-Guide for vulnerable savers
A manual prepared by Ceaccu (Ceaccu.org/publicaciones/guias) that explains how to differentiate investment products to what guarantees each one has or what information we should know and demand from banks.
– “Financial stoplight”
A tool by Ceaccu (Ceaccu.org/economia/financiero/semafono/financiero/ that helps to easily assess, with the three colors of a traffic light, the five essential conditions (security, liquidity, profitability, taxation and guarantee) of the savings products more common.