In these hard times, many people believe the solution to our nation’s economic ills can be summed up in one word – jobs. But that’s just the start. A stable economy can only exist when every family finds a place in the economic mainstream. Finding that place requires financial literacy.
Yet the basic financial skills much of the middle class learned as teenagers can be a foreign language to the working poor. Real economic inclusion takes savvy – knowing how to handle workplace challenges, stick to a budget, and build good credit. If middle-class and well-off Americans benefit from financial counsel, then why not the working poor?
Financial literacy matters. Far more than half of all Americans will slip in and out of poverty at least once in their lifetime. Struggling to make ends meet is harder when you don’t know the financial ropes. It means continuing to rely on costly, seat-of-the-pants solutions when money is tight – like payday loans and check-cashing outlets.
When you’re poor and you have bad credit, life costs more – car loan rates are higher, cell phone and utility companies demand steep deposits, prospective employers check credit scores. Opening a bank account? Forget it.
What if we could bring real, hands-on financial literacy to those who need it most? An innovative model called Financial Opportunity Centers has shown real promise, helping nearly 30,000 low-income individuals reach economic viability through a three-pronged approach: