PERSONAL FINANCIAL PLANNING
October Session (09/52)
October 19 – December 12, 2009
Online Course Syllabus
FINC 298 - Personal Financial Planning
Provides knowledge that helps both non-business and business students effectively manage their
personal financial affairs. Topics include personal financial statements, budgeting, tax planning,
investing and savings, insurance, real estate, and retirement planning. GE (only if used to meet the
economics option for social perspective.)
I. Overview and Course Goals
During week 1, you will learn the course structure and requirements, make your initial introductions,
and become familiar with learning on the web. You will learn that your ability to make wise money
decisions is a foundation for your current and long term well being. You will identify social and
economic influences on personal financial goals and decisions. You will learn to develop personal
financial goals and how to implement a plan for making personal financial and career decisions. You
will learn how to assess personal and financial costs associated with financial decisions. You will
understand the meaning of marginal analysis, opportunity cost, time-value-of-money, and know when
and how when to use these concepts in financial decision-making.
During week 2, you will understand that effective planning of spending and saving decisions provides
a foundation for wise money management today and financial prosperity in the future. You will
identify the main components of wise money management. You will learn how to create a personal
balance sheet and cash flow statement. You will learn how to develop and implement a personal
budget. You will understand how to connect money management activities with saving for personal
financial goals. You will identify the major taxes paid by people in our society. You will be able to
calculate taxable income and the amount owed for federal income tax. You will learn how to prepare a
federal income tax return. You will learn how to select appropriate tax strategies for various life
During week 3, you will identify the important deposits for holding cash balances and the advantages
and disadvantages of each. You will identify commonly used financial services and compare the types
of financial institutions. You will be able to assess various types of savings plans and evaluate different
types of payment methods. You will analyze advantages and disadvantages of using consumer credit as
well as the types of credit that are available. This will enable you to make wise decisions regarding
credit. You will be able to assess the types and sources of consumer credit and determine whether you
can afford a loan and how to apply for credit. You will learn to determine the cost of credit and
develop a plan to protect your credit and manage your debts.
During week 4, you will understand that unplanned and careless buying will reduce your potential for
long-term financial security. You will learn that impulse buying activities of a few dollars a week can
cost you thousands of dollars in just a couple of years. You will learn to identify strategies for effective
consumer buying and implement a process for making consumer purchases. You will describe steps to
take to resolve consumer problems and evaluate legal alternatives available to consumers. You will
learn to assess costs and benefits of renting. You will learn to implement the home-buying process.
You will be able to determine costs associated with purchasing a home and also be able to develop a
strategy for selling a home.
During week 5, you will learn to identify types of risks and risk management methods and develop a
risk management plan and assess the insurance coverage and policy types available to homeowners and
renters. You will analyze the factors that influence the amount of coverage and cost of home insurance.
You will identify the important types of automobile insurance coverage and evaluate factors that affect
the cost of automobile insurance. You will recognize the importance of health insurance in financial
planning. You will analyze the costs and benefits of various types of health insurance coverage as well
as major provisions in health insurance policy and assess the trade-offs of different health insurance
During week 6, you will learn that life insurance helps protect the people who depend on you. You
will define life insurance and determine your life insurance needs and learn how to distinguish between
the types of life insurance companies and analyze various life insurance policies these companies
issue. You will learn to select important provisions in life insurance contracts and create a plan to buy
life insurance and recognize how annuities provide financial security. You will be able to explain why
you should establish an investment program and describe how safety, risk, income, growth, and
liquidity affect your investment program. You will learn to identify the factors that can reduce
investment risk and understand why investors purchase government bonds. You will recognize why
investors purchase corporate bonds and learn how to evaluate bonds when making an investment.
During week 7, you will identify the most important features of common and preferred stock and be
able to explain how you can evaluate stock investments. You will analyze the numerical measures that
cause a stock to increase or decrease in value and describe how stocks are bought and sold. You will be
able to explain the trading techniques used by long-term investors and short-term speculators. You will
describe the characteristics of mutual fund investments and learn how to classify mutual funds by
investment objective. You will learn how to evaluate mutual funds and describe how and why mutual
funds are bought and sold.
During week 8, you will learn that properly estimating your retirement living costs and housing needs
will enable you to save or invest enough money to live comfortably during retirement. Identifying
various kinds of wills and trusts will help you devise an estate plan that protects your interests as well
as those of your family. Creating an effective estate plan will allow you to prosper during retirement
and provide for your loved ones when you die. You will learn to analyze your current assets and
liabilities for retirement and estimate your retirement living costs. You will learn to determine your
planned retirement income and develop a balanced budget based on your retirement income. You will
learn to analyze the personal and legal aspects of estate planning and distinguish among various types
of wills and trusts.
II. Course Objectives
To understand the environment and language of personal finance.
To understand how financial decisions are made in the areas of taxes, insurance, investments,
III. Measurable Learning Outcomes
Explain what is meant by personal financial management and the process used to develop a
personal financial plan.
Explain strategies for managing cash and the role of credit.
Explain the basic types of life, health, and property insurance policies.
Explain the basic principles of income taxes and how to implement an effective tax planning
Explain the role of investing and the variables that should be considered when selecting
Explain the importance of retirement planning and differentiate among the types of individual
and employer-sponsored plans.
IV. Course Policies
To view a demonstration course for details about taking an online course, please go to the following
address: http://www.ccis.edu/online/demo.asp. Read the entire syllabus before continuing the course.
For students new to online education, the following link is a great resource:
There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation,
religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.
Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to
register with the Coordinator for Disability Services. Until the student has been cleared through the
disability services office, accommodations do not have to be granted. It is vital if you are a student
who has a documented disability to read the entire syllabus before signing up for the course. The
structure or the content of the course can make an accommodation not feasible. The policies and
related syllabus matters remain subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances.
The instructor reserves the right to manage a positive learning environment and thus will not tolerate
inappropriate conduct in the course. All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based
or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College Code of
Student Conduct and Ethics Code for Computer Users. Students violating these codes will be referred
to the Campus Life Office for possible disciplinary action. The Code for Student Conduct and the
Ethics Code for Computer Users can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook, a copy of
which can be obtained by calling the Campus Life office at (573) 875-7425.
This course is offered online, over the Internet, using the Internet and the World Wide Web, using
publishing technology provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. Students are expected to
devote time each week in study, on line participation in the computer conferencing system, sending
and receiving e-mail, performing online research, participating in Web explorations and tours, and
interacting socially and professionally with classmates and with the instructor. See Ground Rules for
Online Participation for additional information.
A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday. Both discussions and
dropbox assignments scheduled for completion during a class week should be submitted or posted by
midnight (your local time) on the scheduled due dates. Dropbox assignments should be completed and
successfully submitted in the course dropbox by the due date. NOTE: Because this is an online course
designed to get feedback on assignments to you directly via Internet, you must make prior
arrangements with your instructor before submitting a paper via fax or the postal service. If you ever
have problems transmitting your assignments, contact your instructor immediately.
Ground Rules for Online Participation
To succeed in this course, students must read assigned text and other relevant material, complete
sample problems, participate in online discussions, submit the dropbox assignment, and prepare for the
exams. At the start of each week, students will go to the content section and follow instructions
provided in the appropriate weekly module. In the content section, each of the eight weekly modules
includes the weeks lecture notes, web activities, sample problems, and links to discussion threads and
dropbox assignment. The discussion section is for public messages so we can see what each other have
to say about any given topic, and respond as needed. Students should use E-Mail for private messages
to the instructor and other students. The Class Discussion is for public messages so we can see what
each of us has to say about any given topic and respond to it if desired. Students are expected to be
involved each week in the online discussions or other appropriate online activities, including
sending/receiving E-mail and navigating and conducting research over the World Wide Web.
Conventions of "online etiquette," which include courtesy to all users, will be observed. Instructors are
required to use the College CougarMail address to contact students; however, students may forward
their CougarMail to their personal email account. Columbia College cannot be held responsible for any
delivery failure or breach of security involved with forwarded messages. All students will observe
conventions of online etiquette and be courteous when communicating online. Students may get
assistance with computer related problems through the instructor. To participate in discussions,
students will follow specific instructions provided in the discussion section. Dropbox assignments can
be prepared in MS Word, MS Excel, or similar file format. Dropbox assignments will be submitted via
the dropbox link; however, arrangements can be made in special situations to submit via the postal
service or fax.
All Columbia College policies are in effect as described in the Academic Dishonesty/Misconduct
section of the current college Catalog. All your work must be your own unless collaboration has been
authorized. If collaboration is authorized you must acknowledge the collaboration in writing. Your
grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these
ideas. Presenting as your own the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form is cheating
through plagiarism. If you are unsure what constitutes plagiarism, review the rules of original writing
at the following web site: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/. This link provides valuable information,
including examples about plagiarism. To review some plagiarism tools available to students, take a
look at http://www.schoolsucks.com and www.termpapersites.com. The content of these plagiarism
sites would, if you were lucky, get you a D in this course if you were not caught. It is substandard work
indeed, but you will almost always be caught if you try to cheat, due to the plagiarism prevention tools
available to instructors. Here are two sites that may be of interest: http://www.indiana.edu/~istd and
http://www.plagiarism.com. Plagiarism will not be tolerated and the claim of ignorance is no excuse.
Those found plagiarizing may fail the course. Collaboration with other students is not permitted
without explicit permission from the instructor. This is a form of plagiarism. Roommates and spouses
taking the same course should be particularly careful.
Levels of Communication
We will be using a minimum of two levels of communication in this course, one formal and the other
informal. All writing assignments are formal. They should be written as if you are communicating with
a client. The formal rules of proper English and grammar apply for these submissions, and points will
be deducted for misspellings, incomplete sentences, poor sentence structure, etc.
Discussion postings are informal. You do not have to use capitalization to begin sentences and there
are no penalties for misspellings, incomplete sentences, or other violations of grammatical rules. Your
discussions postings must be original and intelligible. You must communicate effectively. In addition,
you must follow all instructions for full credit on Discussion room assignments.
Grading Policy and Feedback Policy
Each student is responsible for completing chapter reading assignments; web activities; online
discussions; dropbox assignments; and mid-term and final exams. Your work will be assessed on a
basis of percentile, with the 90 percentile being the highest and sixty percentile the lowest in the
passing range. You will know in advance the standards for each assignment. You will be able to track
your average exactly throughout the course. The grading scale is based on the percentage of points
earned, as follows: A = 90-100; B = 80-89; C = 70-79; D = 60-69; F = 0-59.
You will receive clear and useful feedback to help you become a better thinker and learner.
Dropbox Assignments submitted by students will be graded on the Monday following the due date and
the graded paper will include one-on-one feedback specific to the student’s submission.
Discussion answers and critique of other postings must show your knowledge of the assigned readings.
In general, discussion questions are open-ended and are meant to produce lively exchange of ideas and
differences of opinions. In order to get full credit for your discussion posts, you must answer the
discussion question thoroughly.
Quizzes are automatically graded in D2L and the results from the graded quiz will include the correct
answer for each question along with specific feedback on how to derive the correct answer. For the
Midterm and Final Exams, your instructor will manually grade the exam, publish results and provide
feedback for each question on the Monday following the due date.
Late Assignment Policy
Students who register during the first week of class (drop/add week) will have a 7-day extension for
submitting week 1 activities. Late work will be accepted until the end of the semester for 50% max
credit. Assignments are due before midnight on assigned due date.
V. Assignments & Grades
Wk ACTIVITY Pts DUE Wk ACTIVITY Pts DUE
Discussion 10 Fri, Oct 23 Discussion 10 Fri, Nov 20
1 Dropbox 10 Sun, Oct 25 5 Dropbox 10 Sun, Nov 22
Quiz 10 Sun, Oct 25 Quiz 10 Sun, Nov 22
Discussion 10 Fri, Oct 30 Discussion 10 Fri, Nov 27
2 Dropbox 10 Sun, Nov 1 6 Dropbox 10 Sun, Nov 29
Quiz 10 Sun, Nov 1 Quiz 10 Sun, Nov 29
Discussion 10 Fri, Nov 6 Discussion 10 Fri, Dec 4
3 Dropbox 10 Sun, Nov 8 7 Dropbox 10 Sun, Dec 6
Quiz 10 Sun, Nov 8 Quiz 10 Sun, Dec 6
Discussion 10 Fri, Nov 13 Discussion 10 Thu, Dec 10
Mid Term 100 Sun, Nov 15 Final Exam 100 Sat, Dec 12
Total Points 400
Grade Discussion and Dropbox Grading Criteria
10/5 Submission on time with complete/concise answers. Followed instructions.
Submission late with complete/concise answers and followed instructions.
Submission on time, but not complete/concise or did not follow instructions.
6/3 Submission late and answers not complete/concise.
2/1 Submission late and answers are not complete/concise; did not follow instructions.
VI. Required Text
Kapoor, Dlabay & Hughes (2008).
Focus on Personal Finance: An Active Approach to Help You Develop Successful Financial Skills
Print Edition: 2nd
MBS will provide printed textbooks for all online courses. Order the textbook online from:
http://bookstore.mbsdirect.net/columbia.htm. Books may also be ordered by phone at 1-800-325-3252
or by fax 1-800-499-0143.
Students: Please note that the use of an eBook carries certain risks: information may be missing due to
copyright restrictions, the book cannot be resold to MBS, and an eBook purchase cannot be refunded.
VII. Weekly Course Schedule
Week 1: Personal Financial Planning Overview
Readings: Read Chapter 1 and the Appendix: Time Value of Money in pages 33-38. Login to the D2L
course website and click on the content section to access activities for Week 1. Here you will find the
objectives, weekly lecture, web activity, and practice problems. After studying each week’s material,
you should be ready to participate in discussions, complete the dropbox assignment, and take the quiz.
Class Introductions. Go to the discussion thread labeled “Class Introductions” and introduce yourself
by telling us your profession, family situation, and interest in personal financial planning. Feel free to
meet and greet your classmates.
Discussion 1. The class is divided into 2 discussion groups. You will be able to view only your group’s
discussion postings. Go to discussion thread labeled Discussion 1, read the case assigned to your
discussion group (Case-in-point, Continuing case, or Video Case; p.26) and follow instructions for
posting answers to questions. In general, discussion thread questions are open-ended and are meant to
produce lively discussions and differences of opinions.
Note: Take a moment to reread the syllabus on grading discussion posts. In order to get full credit for your discussion
posts, you must answer your assigned discussion question thoroughly. Your answers and critique of other postings must
show your knowledge of the assigned readings. In general, discussion questions are open-ended and are meant to produce
lively exchange of ideas and differences of opinions.
Dropbox Assignment 1. Review time-value-of-money concepts introduced answer questions 6 thru 9
in page 24-25. Submit your work via the course dropbox.
Quiz 1. Go to the Quizzes section and take the online quiz on material covered during week 1.
Week 2: Money Management Skills and Taxes
Readings: Read Chapters 2 & 3. Click on the content section and read week 2 objectives, lecture, web
activity, and practice problems.
Discussion 2. Go to discussion thread labeled Discussion 2, read the case assigned to your group
(Case-in-point, Continuing case, or Video Case; page 67) and follow instructions for posting answers
to questions. In this forum, we will apply some money management skills introduced in chapter 2.
Dropbox Assignment 2. On the topic of taxation, answer concept check question # 4 in page 83 and
end-of-chapter problems 1, 2, 4, and 5 in page 99. Submit your work via the course dropbox.
Quiz 2. Go to the Quizzes section and take the online quiz on material covered during week 2.
Week 3: Cash and Consumer Credit Management
Readings: Read Chapters 4 & 5. Click on the content section and read week 3 objectives, weekly
lecture, web activity, and practice problems.
Discussion 3. Go to discussion thread labeled Discussion 3, read the case assigned to your discussion
group (Case-in-point, Continuing case, or Video Case; pp. 173-174) and follow instructions for
posting answers to questions. In relation to these cases we will discuss credit, the various types and
costs involved in managing credit and in making financial decisions.
Dropbox Assignment 3. Answer End-of-Chapter problems 3-7 in page 129. Submit your work via
the course dropbox.
Quiz 3. Go to the Quizzes section and take the online quiz on material covered during week 3.
Week 4: Housing and Consumer Durables
Readings: Read Chapters 6 & 7. Click on the content section and read week 4 objectives, lecture, web
activity, and practice problems. After studying the material, you should be ready to participate in
Discussion 4. Go to discussion thread labeled Discussion 4, read the case assigned to your discussion
group (Case-in-point, Continuing case, or Video Case; p. 232) and follow instructions for posting
answers to questions. These cases incorporate concepts introduced in chapter 7 including home buying,
selling, costs, taxes and the impact of technology on home buying/selling.
Midterm Exam. Go to the Quizzes section and take the midterm exam on material covered during
Week 5: Property and Health Insurance Planning
Readings: Read Chapters 8 & 9. Click on the content section and read week 5 objectives, lecture, web
activity, and practice problems.
Discussion 5. Go to discussion thread labeled Discussion 5, read the case assigned to your discussion
group (Case-in-point, Continuing case, or Video Case; pp. 264-265) and follow instructions for
posting answers to questions. These cases emphasize the purpose and importance of various property
insurance policies including rent, homeowners and flood insurance.
Dropbox Assignment 4. To review health and disability insurance products and services you learned,
answer end-of-chapter problems 6-10 in page 298. Submit your work via the course dropbox.
Quiz 4. Go to the Quizzes section and take the online quiz on material covered during week 5.
Week 6: Life Insurance and Investing Fundamentals
Readings: Read Chapters 10 & 11. Click on the content section and read week 6 objectives, lecture,
web activity, and practice problems.
Discussion 6. Go to discussion thread labeled Discussion 6, read the case assigned to your discussion
group (Case-in-point, Continuing case, or Video Case; p.327) and follow instructions for posting
answers to questions. In this forum we will discuss the types of life insurance, the right amount of
insurance, and the costs of life insurance policies.
Dropbox Assignment 5. To review investing fundamentals and concepts introduced this week, answer
end-of-chapter problems 2, 6, 8, 10, and 12 in pages 361-2. Submit your work via the course dropbox.
Quiz 5. Go to the Quizzes section and take the online quiz on material covered during week 6.
Week 7: Investing in Stocks and Mutual Funds
Readings: Read Chapters 12 & 13. Click on the content section and read week 7 objectives, weekly
lecture, web activity, and practice problems.
Discussion 7. Go to discussion thread labeled Discussion 7, read the case assigned to your discussion
group (Case-in-point, Continuing case, or Video Case; pp.401-402) and follow instructions for posting
answers to questions. In this forum we will review and apply what you learned about stock investing,
risk, and investing strategies.
Dropbox Assignment 6. To review mutual fund concepts introduced this week, Answer end-of-
chapter problems 2, 5, 9, 11, and 12 in page 431-2. Submit your work via the course dropbox.
Quiz 6. Go to the Quizzes section and take the online quiz on material covered during week 7.
Course Evaluation Survey. These surveys are provided so that instructors can improve the course,
find out what students perceive as strengths and weaknesses, and assess the success of the course.
Week 8: Retirement & Estate Planning
Readings: Read Chapters 14. Click on the content section and read week 8 objectives, weekly lecture,
web activity, and practice problems.
Discussion 8. Go to discussion thread labeled Discussion 8, read the case assigned to your discussion
group (Case-in-point, Continuing case, or Video Case; p.464) and follow instructions for posting
answers to questions. Retirement planning has been given a renewed emphasis since the recent stock
market collapse where many retirement plans lost value. This discussion gives retirement and estate
planning a quick look and analysis.
Final Exam. Go to the Quizzes section and take the final exam on material covered during weeks 5-8.
VIII. Instructor Information
This will be my second semester instructing an online course for Columbia College. Previously, I
instructed a traditional course in personal finance for the University of Missouri-Columbia while I
completed coursework for an MBA with emphasis in finance. I studied as an undergraduate also at the
University of Missouri and served as captain of the varsity swim team. Since that time I have gained
finance related experience while working with Bear Stearns Asset Management in Manhattan, NY and
also The Ziff Brothers, which is a private, family office investment firm located in Manhattan.
Currently I reside between Columbia, MO and Dallas, TX where my family owns and operates
Thomas Sewing Center, the largest independent retailer in the country of home use quilting machines
and Janome brand sewing and embroidery machines. It is my hope to be the facilitator of a valuable
learning experience this semester and I will do all within my time and power to further that end.
Jacob C. Thomas, MBA
(573) 356-8349 (mobile)