Syllabus Personal Finance - The University of Texas at Arlington

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personal financial planning through eloquent, succinct, and easy-to-follow ... notes, solutions to assigned problems, personal finance templates, as well as a set ...


Dr. Emmanuel Morales-Camargo College of Business Building, Rm. 615 Email: [email protected] Tel. (817) 272-1276 Office Hours: M. W. 12:30 P.M. – 2:30 P.M. & by appointment

Curse Purpose: This course satisfies the University of Texas at Arlington core curriculum requirement in social and behavioral sciences. Course Description: An analysis of consumer and financial behavior in present-day society. Against this backdrop, students understand how consumption choices define one's identity in society and understand the importance of value-oriented financial goals for the wellbeing of individuals, families, and society at large. Students also develop the critical-thinking and quantitative decision-making skills needed for responsible spending and financial choices. Required materials: Texts: Kasser, Tim, The High Price of Materialism, 1st Edition (Bradford, 2003). This paperback represents an extensive study of the contemporary culture of consumerism and materialism. Through 10 years of empirical research, the author establishes how this culture can affect the happiness and psychological health of individuals, their interpersonal relationships, their communities, and the world at large. Edelman, Ric, The Truth About Money, 4th Edition (Harper Business, 2010). This is the latest edition of the New York Times bestselling classic. While not structured like a traditional college textbook, this book walks the reader through the complex world of personal financial planning through eloquent, succinct, and easy-to-follow explanations and recommended courses of action. By constantly reminding the reader of the importance of personal and family values, and by pointing out the most common misconceptions and mistakes people make when dealing with their consumption choices and finances, this book is an engaging and effective guide that the students will surely find useful for years to come and that many will keep in their personal libraries as a reference book. Course Website: Login with your usual UTA Net ID and password

The blackboard class website includes the course outline, office-hours schedules, class notes, solutions to assigned problems, personal finance templates, as well as a set of interactive online resources that will assist you in your understanding of the class material and the different course assignments. As the semester progresses, the resources available on the class webpage will expand, so students are advised to check the website on a regular basis. Make sure that, when available, you download and print the class notes prior to the class so that you can take notes more efficiently. Financial Calculator: You must have a financial calculator to get through the course. Many of the problem sets covered in the course involve complex arithmetic and financial calculations, and a financial calculator is necessary to solve them. I recommend either the TI BAII-Plus, the TI BAII-Plus Professional, the HP 10BII-Plus, or the HP 17BII Plus. The TI BAII-Plus, the cheapest of the bunch, does everything needed in the course. I will personally use a TI-BAII-Plus Professional in class and explain how to work various problems with it, so you can follow the session most easily if you use this calculator. The HP-19BII does more and is easier to use, but costs significantly more than the recommended models. Many financial professionals argue that the HP 12C is easier to use once you get used to it, but it has a steep learning curve initially. Also, many students argue that the 17BII Plus is better to have in some of the upper level finance courses, so consider it if you are thinking of majoring in finance. Again, everything in this class can be done with a TI BAII-Plus, which is relatively inexpensive (i.e. under $30). Students may not share calculators on exams, so bring your own calculator at least to the examinations. Please be sure to check your batteries before exams. You are fully responsible for the proper functioning and operation of your calculator during exams. MS Excel: You will need MS Excel for select homework projects and if you wish to replicate some of the personal financial plan templates used in the class. MS Excel is available in all UTA computer labs. Recommended materials: The Truth About Money TV (, Money Magazine, Young Money Magazine, The Wall Street Journal Personal Journal, The Motley Fool (, Newsweek, Forbes, Fortune (or any other major circulation business magazine), and the set of electronic resources and links provided on the course website. Student Learning Outcomes: 1.

Critical Thinking Skills Students will develop critical thinking skills by analyzing materialism, consumption habits, and personal financial practices in the United States and around the world, and by acquiring a working knowledge of the personal finance curriculum and the quantitative decision-making tools of the discipline. By requiring students to apply this knowledge and quantitative constructs to rich and realistic problems explicitly designed to exercise their financial acumen, and by asking them to research alternative public and private resources to develop solutions to these problems, the course will foster the students' ability to synthesize and evaluate large amounts of

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information and will cultivate their aptitudes for inquiry and for creative and innovative problem solving. Outcome achieved through: Lectures, in-class discussions, homework assignments, case study assignment, assigned readings, and examinations. 2.

Communication Skills Students will demonstrate competency in the development, interpretation and expression of ideas through written, oral and visual communication by participating in a series of assignments, in-class discussions, case studies, and in-class presentations with high standards for clarity, professionalism, and effectiveness. Outcome achieved through: In-class discussions, homework assignments, written case study submission, case study presentation, and examinations.


Empirical and Quantitative Skills Students will participate in a series of problem-solving exercises that require the manipulation and analysis of large amounts numerical and factual data, resulting in informed solutions that must be defensible within the context of the personal finance discipline. Outcome achieved through: Lectures, in-class exercises, homework assignments, assigned readings, and case study.


Social Responsibility Students will analyze individual consumer and financial behavior and the interactions that arise within this context among individuals, groups, and communities around the world, evaluating from a civic and moral standpoint the impact of these interactions on the individuals themselves, on their culture, on society in general, and on the environment. Outcome achieved through: Lectures, in-class discussions, homework assignments, assigned readings, and case study.

Course objectives: 1.

To analyze and compare values worldwide and ascertain how they shape people's attitudes toward money and influence their spending and financial behavior, both in the aggregate and as individuals


To conduct an analysis of individual, family, ethnical, cultural, and social values to identify how they can affect peoples' financial well-being


To develop the knowledge base and foundations needed to make informed choices with respect to spending, saving, borrowing, and investing, for long term financial stability


To empower students to use their creative thinking, research abilities, and analytical skills to identify and evaluate alternative solutions to the financial problems individuals and families may encounter in today's complex economic landscape

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To develop the necessary quantitative toolset to make sound consumption and financial decisions


To develop the communication skills needed to clearly explain the benefits of sound financial planning and convincingly convey the most suitable course of action to help others achieve their financial goals


To discuss ways to shape and influence individual attitudes and motivations toward financial planning, leading to more effective and wiser consumption and financial decisions

Examinations: There will be one midterm and one final exam. The final exam will be for all practical purposes cumulative. Most of the questions on the final exam will be taken from material covered since the midterm, but some will come from earlier lectures. The mid-term and final exams will have a maximum potential value of 100 and 150 points, respectively. For the exams you will be allowed to bring in a financial calculator and one 8½” x 11” sheet of paper on which you can write, type, or copy formulas and any algorithms you may see fit to solve the exam problems (yes you can write on both sides!). No laptops or any other materials may be used during the exam. Homework Assignments: There will be five homework assignments, consisting of various discussion questions and problems meant to help you exercise your quantitative toolset and decisionmaking skills within the course curriculum. Each individual assignment has a maximum potential value of 30 points, for a total of 150 points for the semester. Case Study (Written Solution): In teams of at most five students, you are expected to work out and submit a written viable solution to a realistic, personal finance case study. The case study will immerse you in the complex cultural, social, economic, financial, and legal environment of a hypothetical family in financial distress and will require your team to research public and private resources to develop a financial plan for the family. Your team is not only responsible for suggesting alternative courses of action for the most obvious problems facing the family in the case, but must be able to identify potential problem areas that demand their attention in the short-, mid-, and longterm. The proposed solutions and action plans must be creative, ethical, logical, feasible, and show deep insight into the major issues facing Americans today. The document is also expected to be professionally composed, clearly written, and be able to effectively convey the pressing nature of the problems facing the hypothetical family, as well as challenges and merits of the proposed solutions and actions plans, ultimately persuading the family into action. The instructor will provide each team with a hard copy of a distinct case study, free of charge. The case study will contribute a maximum of 70 points toward your final grade. Time will be devoted in class on a predetermined date to set up the teams. One member of the team (and only one) is expected to email the instructor the list of students in his/her team once the team is conformed. Please provide full names and avoid using nicknames or abbreviations.

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If your team has less than five members, the instructor has the authority to assign to your team any student(s) who may not have a team a week after the teams are conformed. After every student is assigned to a team, the professor will publish on the course website the final team rosters. Once this is done, students are 100% responsible for securing the contact information (i.e. email, phone number, or IM usernames) of their teammates. Case Study (Multimedia Presentation): In a 15-minute multimedia presentation, your team is expected share its case analysis and proposed solutions with the class. Your team’s presentation will be evaluated on the basis of its ability to summarize and present all your work in an effective, clear, and professional manner, as well as on your team’s ability to persuade the audience of the merits of your proposed solutions and action plans. A four-minute, Q&A round at the end of your presentation, where not only the instructor, but all members of the audience can question the soundness of your solutions, should help your team make a convincing case in favor of your action plan. You can earn a maximum of 30 points for this concept. The presentations will be held on the last week of classes. The exact due date for both the written solutions and presentation will be randomly assigned by the instructor, once the teams are conformed in full. Class Policies: 1.

The structure of this class and its subject matter makes your attendance and participation in classroom discussions extremely important. Discussions will be conducted both in small groups as well as in the classroom as a whole. Doing the assigned readings before class is essential, since these discussions will typically revolve around those reading assignments.


The url for the course's blackboard site is and is password protected. You must use your usual UTA Net ID and password to login.


All assignments are due at the beginning of the class session of the date when they are due. Please leave them on top of the instructor’s desk as you enter the classroom. Assignments can be submitted in advance in case of emergency.


All assignments are to be typewritten, stapled, and presented on 8½” x 11” bond paper (i.e. white printer paper). Computational-problem solutions can be handwritten if desired. However the homework itself will still be subject to the other two requirements. That is, all essay questions must be typewritten and the assignment stapled. Submissions that do not meet these requirements will not be accepted. All assignment submissions must bear the name of the student(s) presenting it in the front page. Assignments without an identifying name will not be graded.


The instructor reserves the right to assign extra credit work at his/her discretion. If, and whenever this is done, every student will have an opportunity to benefit from such bonus work. However, be aware that not everyone may be able to get extra credit. Personalized extra-credit work will not be given to isolated groups of students who wish to make up for lost points elsewhere, so please do not ask.


The University of Texas at Arlington supports a variety of programs to help students connect with the University and achieve academic success. These programs include learning assistance, developmental education, advising and mentoring, admission

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and transition, and federally funded programs. Students requiring assistance academically, personally, or socially should contact the University Advising Center at (817) 272-3140, or 7.

If you are a qualified person with disabilities who might need appropriate academic adjustments, please communicate with me as soon as possible so that we may make proper arrangements to meet your needs in a timely manner. Frequently, we will need to coordinate accommodating activities with other offices on campus. Course materials can be made available in alternative formats.


Any incomplete given in this class (i.e. grade of "I") will be governed by a written contract with the student that shall specify the work to be done and a reasonable timetable for completion. The allowed time, however, cannot extend beyond the end of the next long semester (Fall or Spring).


Students are encouraged to share intellectual views and discuss freely the principles and applications of the course materials. However, with the exception of the case study and oral presentation, all assignments and coursework must be executed and presented independently.

10. Due to the pervasiveness of email spam and the need to filter out incoming messages at the server and personal computer level, the instructor can only guarantee reception of messages from a student’s official email addresses (i.e. or some alternative university server). By the same token, when sending a message to students, the instructor will only send email to that official UTA account of record. It is the student’s responsibility to have his/her official UTA email account in good standing and to check it periodically. If you are having technical problems or would like to forward your email to an alternative address, please contact the helpdesk for assistance. It is highly recommended that you use “ECON 2337” in the subject field of your email message to improve the chances of making successful contact with the instructor via email. 11. During class, all students are expected to behave in a way consistent with the values and guidelines outlined in the "Rules and Regulations" of the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System, as well as to obey federal, state, and local laws. Any violation of these rules and regulations will be taken very seriously and appropriate sanctions will be applied. Violations include: plagiarism, reprinting someone else’s homework assignment, exam misconduct, bringing arms to the classroom, threatening fellow students or instructors, amongst others. Please refer to the aforementioned document for additional information or direct your questions to the Office of Student Conduct at (817) 272-2354 or


12. It is expected that students will respect others by not using communication devices during the class period. These include cellular or smart phones, pagers, beepers, text or instant messaging devices, sidekicks, blackberries, palms, or the classic piece of paper under the table. Also, be sure to turn off your walkmans, iPods, or any gaming device before entering the classroom. Your final grade will be determined by your cumulative score in all the course assignments described on Pages 3 and 4 of this syllabus. The maximum individual point value of each assignment and the mapping between your total points earned and your final letter grade is provided in the following two tables:

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Assignment Five Homework Assignments Midterm Exam Final Exam Case Study Submission Case Study Presentation Total

Point Range [ 450 – [ 400 –450 ) [ 350 – 400 ) [ 300 – 350 ) 0 – 300 )

Points 150 100 150 70 30 500

Grade A B C D F

Class Outline and Schedule: The following is the day-to-day calendar of activities and topics to cover in the semester. Lecture notes and homework assignments will be published on the course website on a timely fashion. This calendar is tentative, as some of the planned in-class dynamics may take more or less time than anticipated.



Class Activities and Assignments


- Syllabus

General Course Outline and Class Policies


Kasser, Ch. 1 & 2 Lecture Notes 1

Mixed Messages & Personal Well-Being Homework 1 Assigned


Kasser, Ch. 3 Kasser, Ch. 4 Lecture Notes 2

Psychological Needs Insecurity


Kasser, Ch. 5

Fragile Self-Worth


Kasser, Ch. 6 Kasser, Ch. 7 Lecture Notes 3

Poor Relationships The Chains of Materialism


Kasser, Ch. 8 & 9

Family, Community, and the Earth & Making Change

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Lecture Notes 4 Edelman (Part I)

Introduction to Personal Financial Planning Homework 1 Due Homework 2 Assigned


Lecture Notes 5

Time Value of Money: The power of compounding and the perils of consumer debt



Time Value of Money: The power of compounding and the perils of consumer debt (Continued)

Lecture Notes 6 Edelman (Ch. 48)

11 Lecture Notes 7



Lecture Notes 8

The World of Credit Reports

The World of Credit Reports (Continued) Budgeting and Personal Financial Statements Homework 2 Due Form Teams for Case Study Budgeting and Personal Financial Statements (Cont.)

Advanced Time Value of Money Final Team Roster Published


Advanced Time Value of Money (Continued)




Lecture Notes 9 Edelman (Part XI)




Protecting families from tragedy Homework 3 Assigned Cases Studies Assigned Protecting families from tragedy (Continued)

Lecture Notes 10 Edelman (Part II)

Introduction to financial markets and the risk-return tradeoff

Introduction to financial markets and the risk-return tradeoff (Continued)

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Lecture Notes 11 Edelman (Part VI)


Lecture Notes 12 Edelman (Part III)

22 Lecture Notes 13 Edelman (Part IV) 23

Homework 3 Due Homework 4 Assigned Controlling exposure to financial risk

Fixed income investments

Fixed income investments (Continued) The stock market

The stock market (Continued) Homework 4 Due Homework 5 Assigned


Lecture Notes 14 Edelman (Part IX)

Wealth and Taxes


Lecture Notes 15 Edelman (Part V)

Mutual Funds and ETFs

26 Lecture Notes 16 Edelman (Part X)

Mutual Funds and ETFs (Continued) Planning for Retirement


Social Security, 401(k)’s, IRA’s, Roth IRA’s and other pension plans Homework 5 Due


Case Study Presentations (Teams 1 -4)


Case Study Presentations (Teams 5 -8)



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