In the Harvey Aftermath: The Cost of Financial Education by Ambrya Baldwin

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations along with multiple other agencies and good citizens provide support to communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Beaumont, Texas on August 30, 2017. Photo credit: Donna Burton on flickr.com

Texas is still hard at work putting the pieces together after Hurricane Harvey unleashed a fury of rain and devastation over the coast of the Lone Star state. The category 4 hurricane made landfall on August 25 near Rockport, Texas, moved east and stalled over Houston, dropping 50 inches of rain on the city in a matter of days. (Historic Hurricane Harvey’s Recap) By September 1, one-third of Houston was underwater. Flood waters damaged 203,000 homes and forced 39,000 people into shelters. (Amadeo)

After reeling from the catastrophic storm, homeowners are facing another devastating blow: massive out of pocket costs of rebuilding their homes. An estimated 80% of Hurricane Harvey victims did not have flood insurance. (Condon & Sweet)

“About 1.2 million properties in the Houston-Sugarland-Baytown area are at high/moderate risk of flooding but are not in the designated flood zone requiring insurance,” according to Condon and Sweet. Homeowners who decided not to purchase flood insurance prior to the hurricane, thinking about the short term monetary savings, have to take money out of savings or, more likely, accrue debt to pay for costs to rebuild or sell, if it’s even an option for them. The Houston Business Journal estimates $30 billion in damage to homes and vehicles alone in the Houston area. (Witthaus) This figure divided by the 203,000 homes destroyed gives a rough estimate of $150,000 in costs per household, most of which will be paid for by the homeowner.

As the fourth largest city in the U.S., Houston continues to grow in population and development, and the need for better financial planning and education for homeowners is imperative. Financial Mentors of America (FMA) offers high school students the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of financial management at a cost of $35 per student. Through taking the course, students learn how to budget, pay for college, buy a car, purchase insurance, and many other basic financial steps that high school students need after graduating. An investment in the financial education of students today reaps long-lasting benefits for the future of the city of Houston, the country, and beyond. A $35 fee for the FMA Real Life Financial Mathematics course can mean saving students hundreds of thousands of dollars in the future.

From the FMA website, “Real Life Financial Mathematics (RLFM) is a Texas approved, one-year blended online high school advanced math course. The CTE FIN MATH funded course integrates personal financial education, career discovery, postsecondary education funding and selection and reality-based math with five brain development skills – critical thinking, problem solving, team collaboration, communications and project-based learning.” (n.d.)

What is the cost of financial education? Do we measure it in RLFM course with a student license of $35 or do we measure it in the billions of dollars of losses sustained by the 80% of the population who had Harvey flooding, but lacked flood insurance? FMA offers a solution to the need for financial literacy for young adults. By providing the education of financial resources for young people today we can mitigate the lasting financial effects of natural disasters like Harvey in the future.

Reuters. (2017, September 3). Hurricane Harvey Damages Could Cost up to $180 Billion. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from http://fortune.com/2017/09/03/hurricane-harvey-damages-cost/

Amadeo, K. (2017, September 30). Hurricane Harvey Facts, Damage and Costs. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from https://www.thebalance.com/hurricane-harvey-facts-damage-costs-4150087

Condon, B., & Sweet, K. (2017, August 30). About 80% of Hurricane Harvey victims do not have flood insurance, face big bills. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/08/29/hurricane-harvey-houston-flood-insurance-damages-claims/611910001/

Witthaus, J. (2017, August 29). Harvey’s impact: this is how much it’s going to cost Houston. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2017/08/29/harveys-impact-this-is-how-much-its-going-to-cost.html

Historic Hurricane Harvey’s Recap. (2017, August 29). Retrieved October 30, 2017, from https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/tropical-storm-harvey-forecast-texas-louisiana-arkansas

Automation and Job Loss by Ruchi Negi

Nothing remains forever & Change is permanent

Knowledge management and change management have been guiding stars for many flourishing businesses since decades now. We see every day companies diversifying, coming out with a yet new creative way of keeping the customer engaged. These new product lines and new offerings help business in customer retention and also widen the product portfolio. Likewise to improve on profitability, businesses must improve on productivity and minimize defects. Thus more and more businesses are now adopting automation in all forms. Automation has heralded an era where businesses operate like one compact machine free from shackles of human error. We can notice these changes all around us and in all ways of life. The way in which telemarketing jobs have now been taken over by a voice automated interface completely does bring few questions to mind.

Various research agencies and consultants have reported that job market right now is faced with imminent threat from automation and shrinking of technology jobs world-wide. Everyone today in the workforce or the students preparing to get in the industry want to know how they will be affected? How can one prepare to deal with behemoth such as this?

We must acknowledge that even though the automation is fast and coming and may replace many jobs; it may also simultaneously create many more jobs like in past done by machines. If the workforce is not prepared for such a change old skills may be rendered jobless by automation. The new jobs created would be filled by people who are a step ahead of market and companies and have acquired these new skills well ahead of time. Being informed about market dynamics and taking out time to plan one’s career, after thorough research would be the decisive factor in deciding who gets to keep the job.

Students when planning career should look at all the available career options of one’s interest. Knowing the history of how the line of work evolved with change and automation requires a good deal of research. Also a study of strategies being implemented by companies when hiring new employees and new skills in demand would be very helpful. Evolving workplaces and volatility today calls for students to be well informed and be able to take calculated risk. Knowledge of new skills that can help keep up with technology advancement may come in handier than expected. Enhancing one’s skills from time to time improve employee performance, help advance on the job and plan the career better. Being a lifelong learner with analytical mind and a critical thinking goes a long way in helping one succeed in the career of one’s choice.  

Living in the fear of automation is not the solution. As most of the jobs will in a way be affected by it. However being watchful, informed and making right choices would help one be ahead of the curve. Students will need to develop an attitude to embrace change, be proactive in updating skills and be ready automation with open hands.