by Jaynee Sasso
Today’s economic challenges have caused many organizations and government agencies to aggressively push initiatives that address financial literacy. We must not only teach people basic arithmetic and financial skills, but also focus on changing our system of values. I believe that a corrupt value system by which so many have based their financial decisions is the greatest obstacle to the present financial literacy movement. This is especially true for the African American community where getting the “tricked-out ride” and the “bling” have been top priorities.
Check Your Values
Poor savings and investments habits have compounded the impact of the present economic crisis in our communities. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) a whopping 54 percent of African Americans reported having less than $10,000 in savings and investments. A survey of all workers showed only one-third saves so little. As a result, today’s escalating unemployment rates and decreasing retirement account values will have a greater devastating impact on our families today and in the future. No longer can we afford to ignore our self-destructive behavior by choosing to remain financially illiterate.
Build on Today
We must increase our understanding about how to build a lasting financial legacy for generations to come. Far too many have concentrated on living for today, only to realize in their later years that they cheated themselves and their families. Starting today, we must begin to place greater value on using every dollar that comes into our hands to create and build wealth.
When we opt out of taking responsibility for our financial future, we voluntarily forfeit success. Yet according to EBRI, 41 percent of African Americans are more likely than workers overall to think that Social Security will provide them with a major source of income during their retirement years. Additionally, 22 percent of African Americans assume they will need less than $50,000 to cover their health care costs in retirement. We have all experienced enough of our family members and friends falling ill without enough resources to receive quality health care, who then pass away without enough money to cover burial costs.
We are not the only group of people that have suffered from the consequences of financial illiteracy. However, we are the ones placed at the greatest disadvantage because generations face the same challenges and therefore never build upon the financial foundation of past generations to achieve greater financial stability.
Start Where You Are
I invite you to take advantage of all the resources and tools that are available on the journey toward achieving financial success.
A simple way to get started is to commit a certain amount of your budget and time to receiving a quality financial education. Reading books and attending seminars or workshops in your local community is a great way to develop your understanding of personal finance. Consulting with financial professionals that can help you reach your goals is another way to heighten your awareness of what steps you must take to create wealth and leave a legacy for your family. The internet is another great resource for gaining insight into the world of personal finance and receiving free advice from experts. Don’t delay in taking advantage of all the resources and tools that are available on the journey toward achieving financial success.