Financial Literacy Track Preview: Denise Smalls- Income or Wealth?

How many of you are working for income or wealth?  What is the difference?  Income is today and wealth is tomorrow.  One of the ways to accumulate wealth is to start saving for a retirement fund.  Are you currently saving for retirement?  If so, are you saving enough to retire comfortably?

According to the Retirement Confidence Survey, only 66% of workers have saved money for retirement.  These numbers go down significantly for workers who make less than $35,000/year (24%).  A number of people live for today and handle tomorrow when it gets here.  However, these are the same individuals who do not have enough money to pay for both medical and housing expenses.  Are you depending on Social Security to help you with tomorrow?  What happens if social security changes the way it provides funds in the future?  Could this change reduce the amount of money you will need to live on tomorrow?  Let’s say that Social Security does not change and you will receive the same amount that a retiree is getting today, is that enough to live on?  Why don’t you go ask a couple of our seniors who are currently living on Social Security alone and find out how comfortable they are living?

Saving for retirement is a good first step but you have to do more.  You have to determine how much money you will need to save before you can retire. More than 50% of workers, according to the Retirement Confidence Survey, do not know how much money they will need to have to retire.  It is equally important to know if you are on the right track with your retirement goals.  How will you pay for medical expenses?  How will you pay for housing and food expenses?  Do you want to travel or visit your potential grandchildren?  Do you want to spend time playing golf, tennis or bingo?  Do you want to volunteer or work part time?  There are so many decisions that have to be made and while you can’t foresee the future you can definitely plan for it.

There are numerous calculators on the Internet that can help you make a determination on how much money is needed for retirement.  One such calculator is from CNN Money http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/retirementneed/retirementneed_plain.html and AARP also has a good retirement calculator http://www.aarp.org/work/retirement-planning/retirement_calculator/

For more information on retirement and other money management questions, feel free to come to the Money $ense classes where we speak about the above issues as well as how to build and/or fix credit, how to get a free credit report, how to create a spending plan and what are the advantages of using a financial institution.  The class schedule is located at http://www.goodwillcfl.org/services.php.  Go to the bottom of the page for financial programs and select Money $ense class schedule.

Are you working for income or wealth?  Why don’t you use the income you are making to achieve the wealth you want?  How do you accomplish this goal, come to the Money $ense class to find out.

Employee Benefit Research Institute. (2013). Preparing for Retirement in America.  2013 RCS Fact Sheet #3.  Retrieved from http://www.ebri.org/files/Final-FS.RCS-13.FS_3.Saving.FINAL.pdf

Jakita Allen: Financial literacy and the Adult Literacy League

There’s something about the combination of New Year’s resolutions and tax deadlines that makes most of us want to get our financial houses in order. Managing your money can seem like a daunting chore to anyone, but that can be especially true for adult learners.  While we certainly know several successful students, many often do not have the skills to create their own financial plan. Many students struggle not only with text literacy, but also with numeracy, or number literacy, which can make such chores even more intimidating. For the past nine months, the Adult Literacy League (ALL) has tackled this challenge for the students we serve, including those learning English and those with literacy skills below the 5th grade level.

The Adult Literacy League continuously provides training and support to tutors, so they can reach beyond the standard literacy curriculum to help students build lives for their families that are financially stable and sustainable. Tutors fight illiteracy on the front lines by working with adult learners on a one-to-one basis to help them achieve their personal goals. These goals are the benchmarks our students use to measure their own success. We often receive reports that say things like, “Now, I can read my paycheck!” Imagine reaching that milestone after already working for twenty years.

In our job skills classes, we have helped students write resumes, practice interview techniques, apply for jobs on line, and learn important job retention skills. In just the past year, at least 35 of our students have found jobs, 20 obtained first-time employment, and an even greater number have improved their work situation. This is one of the key outcomes we use to measure whether our students are gaining financial stability. We are also very proud of those students, about 20, who have continued their education to get a GED and/or post-secondary education or training.

Our “More for the Money” program offers classes to all students, including those learning English.  In this class, I helped students learn to make a spending plan by making financial goals, determining the steps they needed to get there, and recording their progress. We talked about things as simple as writing checks, how to manage a bank account, and keeping track of the money we spend. We used the “Control Your Money” workbook from New Readers Press, which is a little easier for students at the lower literacy levels. The Adult Literacy League is now working with an experienced volunteer to redesign elements of the FDIC “Money Smart” curriculum to provide classes for our students.

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We are proud to report that our instructors, tutors, and students have reported more than 200 positive outcomes based on improved financial sustainability.  New jobs, better jobs, career training, workable resumes, job interviews, budgeting skills, new bank counts, and savings & retirement plans.  Improving these skills helps our students develop their basic skills and transform the future for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Hope Lynn: What’s your money style?

I have style! Money style that is. Take a lesson from what I learned about myself to see how your money style can affect your past, present and future financial literacy.

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I found this financial awareness quiz on line today, How Does Your “Money Style” Affect Your Life,  thanks to my subscription to Money Talks.  It’s a great website to learn about your money style and then learn from Ashley Barnett on how to turn the patterns of your relationship to money around.

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As it turns out, I am an avoider!  I never wanted to be concerned with money. Everyone should have everything they need; no hunger, poverty, medical bills or illiteracy should deprive people of their human rights. My upbringing was based on the philosophy that with an education all things are possible.  I am an idealist, a child of the 60s.  I was so fortunate to have an education at a high ranking yet low cost city college in New York, and to have had a career in the field of my choice.  I shared what was important to me, a love of literature and writing with my students as my pay check was reliably deposited into my bank account and my retirement fund grew.  The funds were there when I needed to buy a house, have a child and replace a car. I lived the American Dream and am now a retired Boomer. Sadly, I know today that dream is quite fleeting for the next generation. I recently left the teaching profession after more than 30 years, and am now an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer for The Florida Literacy Coalition.  I am aware that joblessness, poverty, hunger and illiteracy are growing as our economy struggles to resurface in troubled times.  More than ever we need to know where our money comes from and how it can be of best use. I know I can no longer avoid knowing about money!

Denise Smalls: Goodwill’s Money $ense

In partnership with United Way, Goodwill Industries of Central Florida is proud to announce the Money $ense Program.  The program consists of a series of four FREE Financial Literacy classes to be offered once each week for four consecutive weeks.  Each week class builds on the previous week information.  The classes are two hours per week and the instructors are teaching this class in the community.  The classes are being conducted in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties.

The classes provide information on the following topics:

  • Banking Basics
  • Spending and Saving Plan
  • Tracking your Money
  • Credit/Debit

The class will also discuss Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), making better financial choices, how credit affects employment, credit cards, bank fees and grocery shopping among other subjects.

These classes use a different paradigm to teach finance to individuals.  We use Financial Socialwork which looks at the behavior, attitude, and habits of individuals.  We want to make people aware of how they have manage money in the past and whether the decisions they made were the best for their families and will assist them to achieve their future goals.  The instructors’ goal is to create sustainable, long-term financial behavioral change in the participants who attend the class

The model

  • Motivates men and women to choose to deal with money in a different way.
  • Teaches how to anticipate, prepare for and cope with setbacks and disappointments.
  • Provides the information and insight to make knowledge based choices and decisions.
  • Supports change with a clear “Change process”
  • Focuses on success with “Five Specific Steps to Success.”
  • Integrates validation, recognition and encouragement.
  • Incorporates a self-assessment process which contributes to growing sense of self, self-worth and self-confidence.
  • Expands self-awareness and personal growth as well as increasing financial knowledge.

The outcomes of the Money $ense Program are as follows:

  • Developing and using a Monthly Spending Plan
  • Opening and using a bank account
  • Establishing and/or achieving credit awareness

The program also includes the opportunity to participate in a one on one personal follow along for all your personal financial issues.

The Money $ense classes are interactive and engaging.  The clients are provided handouts, exercises and printed material on a variety of different areas.  We have engaging discussions with the clients on money management and while there are no right or wrong answers we want to make the individual think about the decisions they implement when it comes to their resources.

We invite all individuals to attend the class whether they are young or old, rich or poor, male or female because everyone could use help managing their money.

For more information on this initiative, please visit the Goodwill Community Service page.