Raised Hand

The Financial Acumen Course®
Preview Video:


What Is The Financial Acumen Course® Project?

The Financial Acumen Course® is an ongoing effort to promote financial literacy, and help families with a practical approach to pay off debts, improve household cash flow, develop supplemental income, and create a secure financial position. 

The course teaches financial life-skills that are not taught in school, but should be.  Academically, schools teach classes in mathematics, accounting and economics.  Basically, schools teach the theory and mechanics of bookkeeping, supply and demand, etc., but they fail to teach practical skills to manage money.

The Financial Acumen Course also teaches how to cut costs; how to save money; how to create a livable budget; how to organize and manage financial records; how to use simple strategies to improve household cash flow with existing resources; how to manage credit; how to recognize and avoid consumer scams; and much more.  For people whose goal is to earn more money, the course teaches concepts of how to create supplemental income; save money on taxes; how to minimize exposure to risk; how to make up shortfalls in retirement planning; and more.

Here are a few illustrative examples of what The Financial Acumen Course teaches:

  • What the Bank Says: Your mortgage broker may tell you that a biweekly mortgage payment is better than a monthly mortgage because with biweekly payments, you’ll make one full extra mortgage payment per year, which pays off your mortgage faster.  But early in your loan, most of your mortgage payment is amortized interest.  That means your initial extra mortgage payments have little impact to benefit you, and you are contractually obligated to pay more money, more often, which puts you at risk if you experience difficult financial times.
  • What The Financial Acumen Course Explains: If your mortgage is scheduled as a monthly payment, but you send in an additional one-twelfth of your mortgage payment each month specifically to be applied towards the principal of your loan, at the end of the year you will have made one full extra mortgage payment, just as with a biweekly arrangement.
  • The difference:  By making monthly payments plus 1/12 of the payment towards principal, 100% of the year’s full extra mortgage payment is applied towards the principal of the loan, and you won’t be confined by a tighter payment schedule if you encounter difficult financial times.


  • Did You Know: If you make your regular mortgage payment but also send in an amount equivalent to next month’s principal as extra principal to pay down the loan, you end up cancelling the amount of next month’s interest off the overall loan repayment schedule!  You probably already knew that sending in extra principal towards your amortized loan pays off the loan earlier.  But this gives you a measure on how much interest you can cancel by exposing less remaining principal to the interest rate over the remaining life of the loan.


  • On average, if you have electric heat you can save 3% per 1°F that you adjust your thermostat (down in the winter, or up in the summer).  So a difference between 70° and 73° can still be very comfortable, but save you $18/month off of a $200 electric bill.  It may not sound like much by itself, but with the other cost cutting measures in the course, household expenses can be reduce by hundreds of dollars.  That’s money that can go towards paying down debt without even feeling it!


  • Is your paycheck direct-deposited into a 0% interest checking account?  If you open a high-yield savings account that pays (on average) between 0.5% and 1.5% interest, you could have your pay deposited to it and earn compound interest with zero additional effort.  Then, once or twice per month around the time you pay bills, have a recurring transfer set up to move the necessary money to your checking account.  It could mean another $10 to $20 per month in your pocket by simply changing the path of your existing income.

  • Consider this: If you make interest-only payments on a loan, your realized interest rate on the loan is 100%.  Every dime you pay to the bank in an interest-only payment is money given away with nothing to show for it.  That could make your 4% student loan more expensive in the long-run than your 18% credit card!  (The bank’s don’t want you to understand that.)


  • Are you paying PMI on your mortgage loan?  It can amount to hundreds of dollars per month, with nothing to show for it.  Private Mortgage Insurance protects your lender, not you.  If you prioritize your debt payments towards paying down your mortgage balance to the point where you have 20% equity in your home, canceling the PMI portion of your payment can free up significant cash flow towards making massive progress towards your other debts!


The entire course applies concepts like these to each person’s actual personal finances.  The examples above barely scratch the surface.  By the end of the course, an attendee has a completely customized household budget (created within the lessons), and is provided with a debt-payoff analysis that specifies their debt-free date (including potential time and money savings) if they make use of the tools and resources explained in the course.  

The key points The Financial Acumen Course drives home are:

    • How to make practical changes to reduce debt and improve cash flow without your family feeling a negative lifestyle impact or a sense of loss,
    • How to develop better financial habits by automating changes that won’t be an imposition, allowing you to get out of debt without giving up your morning latte,
    • How to create more income with less effort, using the same resources you already have available (as well as enhancing your lifestyle by adding new supplemental income streams).
    • How you can make up for lost time (preparing for retirement) by creating “asset equivalents” that produce income and outpace inflation as if you had invested the money years ago.

The lessons are fully narrated, video-based classes that first explain the material, then have the attendee apply the material to their own unique situation by completing interactive exercises that build upon one another.  As an individual goes through the course, they are hand-held step-by-step in creating their own debt payoff plan, their supplemental income plan, and their retirement plan.  To facilitate their success, they are assigned a PSG Certified Coach at no additional cost.  Working with a coach is not required, but it is encouraged to help maximize the feedback to the attendee and the applicability of the course material.

The Financial Acumen Course®
Founder & Project Backdrop:

Teach Kids about MoneyThe Financial Acumen Course® began as a series of lessons that the founder of The Prosperity Solutions Group® created to teach his children about money.  After going through many of life’s financial ups and downs, including stock market investment gains & losses; real estate investments; book publishing royalty income; cryptocurrency trading; high-yield savings; and more, there were many first-hand experiences for founder, author, and creator Tom Elliott to draw from. 

Tom Elliott - Author, EntrepreneurA native of Arlington, MA, Tom Elliott has lived 30 different places throughout the United States and around the world.  Tom earned his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in May of 1990, when he was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy.  He served for 13 years, progressing through the ranks to Lieutenant Commander, having served aboard aircraft carriers and submarines as a Supply Corps Officer, specializing in financials, stock control, contracting and logistics.  His management and financial experience from his military service from 1990 through 2003 contributed significantly to his success in the business world.

After a brief bout with cancer and successful medical treatment, his priorities and personal goals shifted from military service to focus on business pursuits.

Tom with PlaneIn the two years following his Naval service, he completed his master’s degree in Information Systems from The Florida Institute of Technology, and earned his commercial pilot license from 2003 to 2005 while working as the Director of Internet Sales and Training for a growing international company.  During these same years, he served on the board of directors for a local Better Business Bureau chapter; was president of his local BNI chapter; was an international trainer and keynote speaker on the topic of website and Internet marketing; was a corporate speakers’ bureau member; and contributed as a member of the bachelors degree advisory board for ECPI School of Technology, Virginia Beach Campus.

Website 411BookTom is an experienced entrepreneur, having built several successful corporate, limited liability company, and sole proprietorship businesses.  His entrepreneurial spirit began in 1991 when he began a sideline sole proprietorship building and networking custom computers.  He founded and built two website design and digital marketing companies (2003 and 2016).  In 2008 he published his book, Website 411: Business Survival in an Internet Economy.  As a commercial pilot, he founded Pennsylvania Air Services LLC (2009).  Playing into his love for worldwide travel and cruises, he also founded Travel and Vacation Planners, LLC (2009).   He has been successful in traditional business as well as in the network marketing industry, earning a combination of commissions, retail profit and speaker event revenues from international training work, surpassing personal income of $21,000 per month in direct sales as an independent distributor (1999 to 2011).  In 2016, he co-founded Top Tier Business Systems, LLC® (TTBS) with his wife, Lori.  TTBS operates a website design, hosting, and marketing division (Prosperity Web Solutions) and a financial literacy and coaching division (The Prosperity Solutions Group®).

Tom at DeskHe is well-read in a variety of financial programs, having studied Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, Robert Kiyosaki, and numerous other expert and trending authors.  The Financial Acumen Course® is the culmination of work combining his personal and business knowledge with financial and entrepreneurship experience to create a legacy that he could leave for his children.

Financial LiteracyIn creating the lessons of The Financial Acumen Course®, Tom realized that the information was timelessly relevant to families across the United States and around the world.  He also realized that almost all of the existing debt-payoff and financial success programs available to the public today are geared towards following a recipe “for the masses”, rather than a workable system that is customized for each individual household.  He found it to be a significant problem because people with different backgrounds, financial circumstances, personal values and lifestyles can’t all follow the same “cookie cutter” program and achieve individualized results.  The Financial Acumen Course addresses the problem by providing a custom solution for each person who enrolls.

    • By exploring money habit and behavioral concepts, the course allows people to prioritize their actions based on their own personal values and priorities.
    • By explaining strategies and techniques, the course teaches skills and information that is not taught in school, but should be.
    • By providing a topical overview of financial information, the course teaches an easy-to-follow flow to help individuals understand the cause-and-effect for money decisions and promotes financial literacy.
    • By including a workbook with personalized exercises, the course makes the material directly relevant and applicable to each individual, using their real numbers to paint their real picture.
    • Then, by building upon financial literacy lesson by lesson, the course empowers each person to create their own debt-payoff plan and secure retirement via the tools, resources, skills, and knowledge gained throughout the video lessons, interactive quizzes, and workbook assignments.

Eric Parish, The VoiceTom composed the video content, scripted narrative, workbook, exercises, and other course content.  Then he commissioned the help of his life-long, closest friend, Eric Parish, to narrate the course with poise and flair, making the lessons come to life with personality.  Eric’s major contributions to The Financial Acumen Course® kept the material engaging and entertaining.  After Eric’s 100+ hours of meticulous recording work and ongoing edits, Tom completed the video production to finalize the 14+ hour course.  In all, several thousands of hours and a solid year of six- to seven-days per week were invested in creating the finished product.

FACTo make the course affordable, he took two factors into consideration: the national average minimum wage in the United States (all states considered) which was $11.80/hour, and the price of other popular debt-payoff programs (which trended close to $250).  His goal was to be more affordable while also being more effective.  The price of the full-length course, then, amounts to paying less-than the average minimum wage for the benefit of gaining tools; learning skills; and becoming empowered to eliminate tens- or hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments to lenders.  It was definitely a value-added proposition to anyone taking the course.  If the attendee takes action on the material in the course, the course is designed to pay for itself within the first month of enrolling in it.

Partnering in Success CourseOnce The Financial Acumen Course® was completed, Tom realized that there needed to be a way to help people become aware of it.  He also wanted to help people create a better financial picture for themselves without making it too difficult or time consuming.  He reasoned that if people had an easy way to share the course with others, it would help more people.  At the same time, it made sense to share the sale on a referral basis with people who wanted a zero-cost, no-risk affiliate arrangement.  So, back to the drawing board, Tom created the PSG Partnering-In-Success™ program to promote awareness and propagate financial literacy while helping people produce supplemental income in the process.  Once again, Tom called upon Eric to narrate the course.  Despite the finished Partnering-In-Success Course totaling one hour and forty-five minutes in duration, Eric devoted an additional 20+ hours in recording time to the project.  In all, the Partnering-In-Success™ course (including the 200-page manual) took another entire year in-the-making.
DWCourseProdImgCompleting the Partnering-In-Success™ Program was a significant milestone, but it produced another challenge.  The vehicle to share The Financial Acumen Course® with more people was in place, but the personalized nature of tailoring course material to each household meant that individuals occasionally needed one-on-one, personalized attention to answer their questions.  To meet the increasing demand for individualized guidance as more people enrolled in the course, PSG needed to have a uniformly-trained team of qualified coaches to teach the material.  The team had to be consistent in their approach any one team member could fill the shoes of any other team member.  Likewise, the level of mastery and understanding of the course material had to be measurable, ensuring quality control in teaching.  A professional coaching team was needed.  So once again, Tom created, produced, and finished the PSG Debt & Wealth Coach™ Entrepreneurship Course, including 12+ more hours of video lessons and a 300-page coaching manual.  And once again, Tom called upon Eric to be “the voice of The Prosperity Solutions Group®” (another 80+ hours to his credit).  Unlike many home-based business-related endeavors where the only barrier to entry is a “pay-to-play” arrangement, the PSG coaching program was structured to require exams, interview, and audition requirements to achieve certification.  Specific criteria and scoring thresholds had to be met for quality control before a coaching candidate was approved to be a PSG Certified Coach™ (annual recertification required).


Financial LiteracyOf course, The Prosperity Solutions Group® needed its own website to showcase the various courses and programs that comprised the debt payoff system, as well as to facilitate financial literacy and accessibility.  The original web presence for PSG and The Financial Acumen Course® was a single page on the Top Tier Business Systems® website.

Tom created the PSG website to provide a home for The Financial Acumen Course®, Partnering-In-Success™ Course, and Debt & Wealth Coach™ Entrepreneurship Course, as well as to promote concepts in financial literacy and a support structure for PSG staff.  The website includes the learning management system (LMS); appointment and event calendar for consultations, seminars, and webinars; transactional e-commerce; and back-office support resources for PSG Certified Coaches, Facilitators, Debt Consultants, and Partners-In-Success.

Altogether, the entire system of courses, books, forms, website, and other infrastructure was a four-year, 3500+ hour effort created by Tom Elliott with significant time and voiceover work contributed by Eric Parish.  From its simple start and ideal of teaching kids money skills, the focus of the project evolved into the goal of getting families out of debt, one household at-a-time.  And the mission of The Prosperity Solutions Group® was therefore defined, helping people become self-empowered to achieve debt-free lives while creating their own secure retirements.

PSG Program Collage

Take a Closer Look!

Money is a very personal and private topic for people.  On one hand, people love to give financial advice to others.  On the other hand, people are very hesitant to accept financial advice.  In other words, people tend to tell others what they’d do if they were in the other people’s shoes, based upon their own priorities and values.  Unfortunately, such opinions are rarely a good fit for the one receiving the advice.

Consequently, most popular or trendy programs that tell you how to achieve financial peace in your household (or follow a “recipe” of pre-defined steps to become debt free) do not consider your personal financial circumstances in context with your goals, priorities, and values.  Some of them advocate a regimen of “self-deprivation“, much like a fad diet where you’d need to make drastic changes to your lifestyle in order to reach unrealistic, aggressive goals.  Few people succeed following a plan based on such conditions.  If you have to give up your comforts and reduce your lifestyle for more than a few weeks, sooner or later it becomes easier (and preferable) to rationalize falling back into bad habits.

Likewise, “cookie cutter” programs that dictate a generic recipe for all to follow end up being “one-size-fits-none”.  Besides that, such programs typically instruct their followers to take actions that result in slower payoff and less savings than if people chose a more sensible plan.  In the end, people who try (and fail) at fanatical approaches to becoming debt free often end up feeling like they joined a “financial cult” rather than a workable, doable program well-suited for their personal financial success.

Here are a few examples of “one-size-fits-none” sentiments found in a few such popular programs:

An “Emergency Fund” is essential, we agreeBut a nice round number of $1,000 is completely arbitrary.  Who decided $1,000 was the “right” number?  Some families might need more of an emergency fund based on their circumstances.  Others may not need as much.  There are many considerations to be weighed in deciding how much to put aside.  What is the overall household cash flow?  What are the monthly financial obligations?  What financial resources are available?  What kind of convertible and liquid assets does the household have?

Creating an emergency fund with an arbitrary figure may sound like a good idea at first, but how much interest is the money earning in the bank, compared to how much interest is the debt costing during the same time period?  If credit resources remain available, the $1,000 could make a bigger dent in the debt by reducing interest charges and minimum required payments.  If no emergency arises during the short term, you win.  If an emergency does arise in the short term and credit resources are available, putting the emergency on credit is a small setback, but the amount of interest saved by paying down debt to that point still leaves you further ahead…  so you still win.  A little bit of thought needs to be put into which approach makes the most sense for a household’s situation before arriving at the best choice and the optimal amount for an emergency fund.

The Financial Acumen Course® shows people how to arrive at a more realistic, applicable figure based on their actual financial habits, priorities, and personal circumstances.

emergency fund

Debt Snowball WorksheetThe Debt Snowball approach to paying off debts is one of several strategies explained in The Financial Acumen Course®.  It has its place, but it should not be the default “go-to” method of becoming debt free.

Why do some programs recommend it?  Because “Debt Snowball” provides a psychological perk of seeing progress as the smallest-balance debt gets paid-in full first, encouraging a “stick-with-it” mentality to then roll (snowball) available cash flow into paying the next-smallest-debt afterwards, and so on.

What’s the problem with it?  There could be several.  It depends.

The smallest-balance debt may not be the most costly debt.  For example, if you have a simple interest line-of-credit balance of $5,000 at 4% interest and a $14,000 car loan at 6% interest, the car loan is costing you more because of the higher interest rate and because it’s potentially an amortized loan with front-loaded interest.

Or let’s say you have a credit card with a balance of $10,000 charging 18% interest.  By attacking the smallest-balance line-of-credit debt with Debt Snowball, you could end up adding more interest to your debt (on the credit card) than you manage to pay off each month.  Depending on your household’s cash flow and discretionary income, the Debt Snowball approach can result in causing you to get buried far enough in interest-induced debt that you can’t recover.

With Debt Snowball, at best you’re likely leaving money on the table for your lenders to profit from you.  Worst case, you can dig a hole too deep to escape from.  The Financial Acumen Course® teaches how to identify the most expensive debts and create a strategic plan for the fastest path to becoming debt-free.

Is it such a bad thing to pay cash for your bill payments each month?  Not necessarily, but it certainly doesn’t take advantage of using the bank’s money to pay your bills each month by using strategies of interest accrual and interest float.

Ask yourself this question: How much interest does the cash earn for you when it’s in your desk drawer?  Answer: ZERO.  

The idea behind the notion of using cash envelopes is to eliminate overspending or temptation of credit cards.  It’s intended to teach self-discipline with the thought process, “When you’re out of cash, you’re done spending.”  By breaking your available cash into budget envelopes, you’re able to allocate your resources and create a “line in the sand” for yourself not to cross.

What if you could achieve the goal, but earn interest on your “budget envelope” cash?  Well, as long as you’re in the process of adjusting your mindset to shift from credit cards to cash envelopes, we’d suggest keeping the cash in a high-yield savings account where it earns interest, compounded daily.  Keep “play money” from a board game in your desk drawer budgeting envelopes.

Then, twice-a-month or so when you pay your bills, batch the savings account money to your checking account using your bank’s free online transfer, and use your checking account’s bill-pay feature to make your payments.  You simulate “cash in envelopes” while you earn real money via your bank account.  The difference?  You end up generating a few extra dollars per month in interest, and the cash isn’t burning a hole in your pocket.

You create the habit as intended, you benefit from earning interest, and your money is safer in an FDIC insured bank.

Play money

Whether you cut up your credit cards or not is a personal choice.  If you absolutely can’t refrain from impulse purchases, cutting them up might be your personal “right” answer to avoid temptation.  But we don’t recommend cancelling all of the accounts.  There are numerous reasons.

We realize the goal is to get out of debt.  Debt-free is good.  Burning bridges is not good.  Having some available credit, but being self-disciplined not to use it on a revolving basis has its benefits.  The Financial Acumen Course® teaches how to approach the challenge of using credit as a tool to get ahead, rather than a crutch to create a stumbling block.

For example, if you can automate your monthly utility bills such as cable, electric, security, water, trash collection, etc. onto a credit card that pays cash back, and you use your bank’s automatic bill-pay to pay the credit card in full each month, then you are essentially using same-as-cash to pay your bills, earning interest in your bank account on the money you floated with the credit card’s grace period, and reducing the net cost of your household utilities by earning cash back in rewards.  The key, here, is that you never actually had to handle the credit card, so it’s not a temptation.  Instead, it’s a financial tool.  The whole process can be completely automated, and before long, your cash flow improves with the combination of earned interest and cash-back.

You simply can’t accomplish the same benefit with a debit card where the funds are immediately withdrawn from your bank account.  You’ve probably heard the expression, “It’s not what you make that matters.  It’s what you keep.”

    • Why not CANCEL your credit cards?  Follow the logic:
    • Canceling your credit cards reduces your available credit. 
    • 30% of your credit score is based on your credit utilization. 
    • Your credit utilization is the amount of credit you’re using compared to the amount of total credit available, so if you cancel your cards, your utilization ratio goes up. 
    • When your credit utilization ratio goes up, your credit score goes down. 
    • Banks assign interest rates on your revolving debt based on your credit worthiness. 
    • When your credit score goes down, banks see you as a higher credit risk. 
    • When banks see you as a higher credit risk, they raise your interest rates on your existing credit accounts. 
    • When that happens, you end up paying more interest on your existing debts while you’re attempting to pay them off. 
    • If you cancel several cards and your credit score drops substantially, your other lenders may start to call the loans that you have: mortgage, car loan, etc. 
    • If that happens, you may find your home in foreclosure or your car repossessed. 
    • It can get ugly fast.  It doesn’t make sense to create self-inflicted setbacks by incurring higher interest rates, or worse.

So The Financial Acumen Course® recommends not burning bridges.  Cut them up if you must, but think twice before you cancel them.

cash back card

Bad CreditSome debt payoff programs take the position that “the only reason your credit score is important is if you’re looking to get into more debt.”  That’s not true…  NOT AT ALL.

Maintaining good credit is important.  If your credit score is bad, fixing it is important.

Your current lenders evaluate your credit worthiness monthly to quarterly.  The interest rates you pay are based on your credit worthiness.  If your credit score drops, your rates tend to go up, costing you more money and hindering your progress towards becoming debt-free.

If you need to rent a home or apartment, or if you try to set up utility services, your application may be denied based on a bad credit score.

If your job requires a security clearance or involves positions of trust, a bad credit score can have negative impacts on your employment.

Your insurance premiums be impacted by a bad credit score as a risk indicator.

The Financial Acumen Course® explains some of the trappings of bad credit scores, and the kinds of things you can do to manage and improve credit worthiness– not for the purpose of going into further debt, but to minimize costs and minimize personal risk.

The five pointers above are just the tip of the iceberg.  Beware of following a catchall recipe that dictates specific (but generic) what-to-do’s, rather than creating and customizing a personalized plan that also explains why to do certain things.  

Perhaps you’ve heard the expression,Give someone a fish, you feed them for a day.  Teach them how to fish, you feed them for a lifetime.”  The Financial Acumen Course® is about teaching people how to fish for themselves.  It explains the what’s, the why’s, and the how’s of becoming debt-free, creating supplemental income, and building a secure retirement.

Legal Disclamier:

The questions, answers, and information herein are not intended to provide financial, legal, tax or investment advice.  In other words, we’re not telling you what to invest in, how to do your taxes, and so forth.  Everyone’s situation is different, so for that kind of advice you will need to talk to your accountant, attorney, or other professional who is familiar with your unique circumstances.  We have to make this disclaimer because we don’t know your specific individual financial circumstances.  Our answers to the questions above are opinions.  You can choose to use or ignore them at your own discretion.