One Woman’s Passion for Financial Literacy by Lorra Brown –
Three years ago I recognized the importance of knowledge about financial decisions. Some would say that the concerns about financial literacy are not unique and new. Financial decisions are particularly vexing to many of today’s families and too many business owners as well. The added complexity taking place just as households face increased responsibilities for financial decisions and for insuring their own financial well-being.
At the same time I’ve found, bad decisions can swamp households in debt and lead to much lower living standards than households would enjoy, had their financial decisions been better. For financial freedom to help people, they must understand their choices and the implications. Unfortunately, many Americans have a weak grasp of basic personal financial principles. General attitudes toward spending and saving behavior are troubling as well. Low-income families are especially vulnerable to misinformation. However, financial literacy levels remain low, especially for the less-educated and low income population. I’ve made it my mission to strive not only for effective teaching methods, but for content that is correct—not misleading—and that will lead to sound financial decisions about matters relevant to those taking the courses. The one course for all is no longer relevant to all. We as the teachers must be able to understand the issues that individuals are dealing with, especially those that are low- income. The question still remains, how do we get there? My experience has found the first step should be to clarify the goals of the financial education for our communities. Introduce financial training at the early stages as well as getting the family involved. This will prevent some of the long-lasting mistakes and prevent bad habits from developing.
Experience needs to be an important component of the education process, linking financial learning to teachable moments that will increase knowledge and improve the quality of financial decisions. Currently, organizations are reaching out to individuals and households by providing training despite the promising opportunities these programs offer, the fact remains that reaching out to individuals or households remains difficult. One major challenge is how to develop financial literacy policies for unbanked members of society. The potential for drawing more low-income people into the financial mainstream, must remain an important goal. Educating individuals about the advantages of having a bank account and continuing to provide help for setting up accounts and ongoing budget management training is important. We should emphasize on preventing mistakes and promoting long-term learning. Also addressing the needs of those on public benefit programs is much needed.
I wish more people were willing to put themselves in the place of people who have less financial training and were able to give some of their time to helping more low-income families. In love the hardest gift to give is time. If we love our communities as we say that we love God, we should be ready to hand over some of our time to them. I’m delighted to have found this as part of my passion, part of legacy building that will last long after I’m gone. Giving my time to teaching people about finances and budgets is very rewarding.