Thomas Ross / Class 9: Financial Literacy
223. How would you gauge your level of financial literacy today?
Through this experience I am much more aware of financial concepts that I was not aware of prior to being removed from society. I pay close attention to financial conflicts more now on all levels of life. I watch financial issues on the news, I read all sorts of papers, and also through friends and family. I have a good idea what is going on in the financial world. I hope and pray that my knowledge will expand because the goal is to take care of my family upon my release.
224. To what extent would you suppose that financial literacy relates to your probability for success upon release?
I am certain that my financial literacy will have a bigger influence on me as I get close to my release. Although I spend a lot of time understanding the word of God, I also spend a great deal of time trying to put together a business plan to be successful. I will not have too much time to build a huge financial nest because when I release I will be in my late forties so I will have to make sure that I leave prison with a plan and not wait until the last minute. I want to own a home and be financially stable to take care of my family and run a successful business.
225. What opportunities exist for prisoners to improve their financial literacy?
Individuals who want to improve their financial literacy have many resources at their disposal. I have always found people to help me when I was trying to get an understanding of the financial world within the system who were very knowledgeable because this was an area that I did not pay much attention to prior to being incarcerated. The goal was just to work and educate myself to make as much as I could to take care of my family. No true planning was involved. I believe an individual can educate himself through reading newspapers and books that can describe investment strategies and concepts. The individual that lacks the discipline to read and study may be at a disadvantage. If an individual even takes the time to watch CNBC he can also be educated on financial opportunities.
226. How would you summarize the total costs of your imprisonment?
I summarize the total costs of my imprisonment as a total waste of taxpayers resources at at cost of approximately $30,000 a year the cost far exceeds $400,000. In addition of my imprisonment taxpayers bore the burden of the costs of my trial. I also believe that the loss of revenue that I would have generated over the years of being incarcerated would have been substantial.
227. Describe ways in which in an understanding of the stock market may help you value investment opportunities.
I havent done much research on the stock market. However, from people I know who have spent a lot of time working in and with the financial markets, there is a lot of potential there for making money if one is willing to put the required time and effort into everything that is involved.
228. How would improving skills to analyze the fundamentals of a particular stock lead to becoming a better small businessman?
The fundamentals of a particular stock can provide an investor with insight in regards to how well a company has performed over a given period of time. Those fundamentals may include information as a price to earnings, a debt to equity ratio, and a snapshot of revenue growth or earnings growth. The fundamental may offer an insight to show how well a company manages his inventory, how effectively it leverages its balance sheets, and what level of historical returns it has provided for its investors. By understanding such concepts, a small business owner would have the literacy necessary to assess valuations of investment opportunities that exist outside the public markets.
229. Describe the level of thought you are giving to your financial future.
At this stage of my confinement, I think a lot about what I could bring to my financial future. I have been incarcerated for over a decade, and have lost a lot of opportunities to advance in my financial future. That means that I have a lot of work to do in order to prepare for retirement. I think about how much I will have to earn each year in order to meet living expenses, pay my taxes, and set aside resources to grow for my retirement and to also provide for my family.
230. Describe the level of preparations you are making to prepare for retirement.
My wife and I have been planning and preparing opportunities for retirement. She is a nurse assistant and works very hard to maintain our family financial obligations while I am incarcerated. She also spends a great deal of time researching business opportunities for me upon my release. Prior to my incarceration we worked together with my paint company because she wants to get back into the business of painting she knows what to look for in the market. Her career also provides stability and insurance to our family while I work to perpare for our major expenses. We work as a team everyday and that gives us confidence that we will conquer all struggles that we face ahead of us.
231. In what ways would an understanding of the U.S. tax code contribute to your preparations for release?
By understanding the tax code, an individual will know that he exposes himself to criminal prosecution whenever he lies or cheats the government out of what they owe. I have met several individuals over the last decade who took chances related to taxes.
232. What is your understanding of entrepreneurship?
My understanding of entrepreneurship is a method or approach to starting a business venture understanding that there is risk involved, but being willing to accept that risk in order to gain reward.
233. What would you attribute as a primary reason for business failures in the United States, and why?
The top two primary reasons for business failure in the United States in my opinion are 1) the complexity of rules and regulations, and 2) lack on proper planning and vision. These two things combined probably account for over 50% of all business failures in the United States.
234. If you were going to run your life as a business, how would you describe your preparation to succeed?
I would prepare by first coming up with a clear vision as to what my goal actually is. After I had a clear vision I would then map out an action plan; something that will keep me on track and help point me in the right direction. At the same time, however, I would instill behavioral flexibility into myself and my plan, because plans almost never work out like we want them to. And having the ability to be flexible is critical in almost all aspects of life.
235. What resources do you have available to you now?
Currently my primary resources are my motivation to succeed, my interest in business ventures, and my determination to create and live a robust life. Although I do not have much physical resources, I feel that is not always as critical as people think it is. There are many stories in life about some of the most successful people ever who started out only with motivation, determination, and a fierce interest in their field of interest.
236. What potential markets exist for you?
The potential market that exists for me upon my release is owning my own painting company. Prior to my incarceration I started my own business painting, but had to let it go due to my long prison sentence. Therefore I have the knowledge of what it will take to run a successful business.
237. What level of resources do you anticipate having on the day of your release?
Upon my release I plan to have business cards made, a web site up, I plan to have a add in the yellow pages as well as the local papers, I plan to have flyers go out to the local Property Management Companies just to get the word out. I know it may be tough the first year but I have faith in God I know he will get me through tough times as I continue to pray.
238. What level of earnings do you project during your first three years after your release?
Three years after my release I anticipate earning approximately $236,000.00 per year.
239. What level of earnings do you project during your first decade after your release?
In the first decade of my release my goal earnings will be to exceed over $500,000.00 per year. I plan on expanding my paint company throughout California as well as other states throughout the U.S. I also anticipate becoming a paint distributer which will also bring in a high volume income.
240. What action steps can you begin taking to increase your financial literacy?
An individual must at least complete a basic education which consists of reading, writing, and math. They must also commit to increasing their education and understanding of financial matters.
241. What relationship do academic credentials have to enhancing financial literacy?
Academic credentials will help the average individual in enhancing their financial literacy. They will be able to understand basic percentages, ratios, and formulas that will prove necessary to understanding business. An individual opens more opportunity to being successful in business or making career choices rather than facing failures that will bring someone back into the prison system.
242. In what ways would fluency with mathematical concepts and equations enhance your potential earning power or opportunities upon release?
An individual who educated himself on mathematical concepts and equations will open up numerous opportunities upon release. An individual lacking such skill will always be vulnerable to failure. To the extent that the person educates himself, he prepares himself for success.
243. In what ways would developing your skill with regard to reading, writing, and speaking enhance your potential earning power or opportunities upon release?
In this advanced technology world, it would be very hard to be released from prison without having basic reading, speaking, and writing skills. To accomplish any type of success in like, an individual must take steps to enhance their financial literacy skills. The lack of these skills translates to missed opportunities.
244. Describe the types of books that might broaden your financial literacy and thus help you prepare for success upon release?
After an individual develops his basic education he may advance his opportunities to enhances in business. An individual should read books on the stock market and investing. He should also read books about successful businessman, and be very disciplined to what the book teaches. Any type of business book will enhance an individuals financial literacy and prepare him for success.
245. What resources will you rely upon to make financial decisions in your future?
First I want to make sure that I stay committed to God when I make decisions in the future about my financial plans. That way I am always centered on doing the right thing. I want to stay humble because I do not want to get off the right track. I want to make value-based decisions in all areas of my life. I want to eliminate all potential risks. And last I want to stay true to God and my family.
246. To what extent do you anticipate investment decisions having a role in your future?
Investment decisions will have a big role when I get out of prison. My wife and I are already planning ways to invest for our future financially. Ive lost out of a lot of time throughout this incarceration so our goal is to be smart and prepare for our retirement. It is key for us that we plan our future for our family to move forward and not to look back.
247. Describe the resources you anticipate relying upon as you advance in age.
I will rely upon my income that will be through my paint company. My wife will contribute through her nursing position. Together, we will both generate a fixed income to support our family.
248. What role will these resources play in sustaining your life?
The investment resources that Angela and I will being to plant in the years to come will allow us to enjoy an income as we age. We will also work hard to provide a level of comfort with our family and enjoy our retirement.
249. How will you adjust your tolerance for risk as you age?
Despite being in my late forties, I will work hard. My best earning years will come within the next 12-15 years. As we age beyond our early fifties, I will invent in safer and more secure instruments.
250. What influence would another problem with the criminal justice system have upon your financial stability?
I will not engage in behavior or relationships that could expose me to a potential problem of another encounter with dealing with the justice system. Throughout this incarceration, Ive learned how easy it is to wipe out peace of mind and financial stability. The plan is to live a godly life and do right by my family.