This week, I acquired several helpful tidbits from a day-long training by America Saves. In this current age of financial upheaval and vast information, the program encouraged us to understand the difference between financial education and financial information. The first is the awareness of what finances do in our lives and the second is usually broader in terms of personal awareness. For example, information is what we know of financial basics, like buying a car and financing. Education is learning how to manage your finances throughout life. It grows with you, and you learn to navigate that through life events.
Program presenters shared that more than 70 percent of us will have at least three major financial events throughout our lives that cause struggles. Currently, most households have less than 30 days of funds saved for emergencies (that which would cause financial hardship) if there was an unexpected expense or medical emergency.
Prepare by starting at the end, work backward
So, what should I do? Start at the end or where I want to be, and work backwards. Is this knowledge gained or utilized, helping me get to my long-term goals? Ask yourself and your family, what do you want to achieve? What are the barriers to helping you achieve your financial goals and what needs to be learned to overcome these challenges. In class this week, I was working with someone who took her debt and realized that if she paid $83 a month, it would be paid off in less than three years. “That’s manageable, I just didn’t know where to start,” she commented.
Younger generation tends to live for today
A panel of guests at the training discussed generational differences. Many of our younger employees and staff live for today, or don’t save for tomorrow. Millennials feel as though there’s no reason to save, but there needs to be a balance because life happens. We acknowledge what they are feeling while helping them look at the future. Storytelling or relating it to personal experience is powerful, it gets the brain engaged and helps them to think about the future.
Another panel talked about savings. Many shared their early conversations as a child about money, and challenged us to think what can we do to set our children up in a more positive manner? They all agreed, don’t quit talking about money but also practice it and show children your successes. Sometimes as parents, we don’t want to talk about what we can and can’t do. Emphasize that I’m not saying no to be mean, but the money simply isn’t there. If you are comfortable and the youth is mature enough, share the household budget so her or she understands what “life” really costs monthly. A youth shared her experience about talking with her parents about purchases, emergency funds and saving for further education. Panel members were able to guide and ask questions for her to learn and process without telling her how she should spend her money so future processing could take place.
Find the right tools and access to succeed: find a safety net
The panel emphasized being mindful about money, how we budget, save, and spend our money. We get our attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs from the people around us. What’s the incentive to support their goals and control their own savings? They can and will save, if they are given the right tools and access to do so. Many young people who have success in saving for down payments, education, and future accounts, also achieve confidence to be successful in other areas of life. They learn about delayed gratification, planning and looking to the future. They encouraged us to be empathic listeners, as they align with mission and goals towards action or look for small wins to overcome barriers.
What if you can’t save? Many say there’s no money to save, but you can do it by looking at the reality of where your money is going. Reduce where you can and simplify the spending or make a sacrifice so that there is a safety net. The panelists recommended cutting down on consumption as the easiest place to save money. We were reminded that some have experienced inflation in previous years, while for others, it’s a new experience. Talk with friends and family, learn how they are cutting on expenses and putting a little money away, don’t give up on savings if possible.
Are these new, maybe not, but repeating the concepts will help establish good financial practices for the years to come.
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or email@example.com
CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visit cfaesdiversity.osu.edu.
This article was previously published in The Daily Record.