Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why Financial Capability Matters in 2014

Last year, the White House declared April Financial Capability Month, proclaiming that “all Americans deserve the chance to turn their hard work into a decent living for their families and a bright future for their children. Seizing that opportunity takes more than drive and initiative -- it also requires smart financial planning. During National Financial Capability Month, we recommit to empowering individuals and families with the knowledge and tools they need to get ahead in today's economy.”

With the unemployment rate in South Carolina steadily decreasing from 8.1 percent in February 2013 to 6.4 percent as of February 2014, it’s crucial that those gaining employment use practical money management skills. That’s where financial education comes in. Financial education is a means to help alleviate and prevent poverty. Although the unemployment rate is down in South Carolina, the number of those in poverty is up. Currently 1 in 5 South Carolinians live in poverty compared to 1 in 6 in 2000. That’s nearly 300,000 more residents.

Image via Pearson Foundation
Regardless of your economy or your household income, it’s important to realize that financial education matters. Those individuals who receive it are more likely to make the right financial decisions for themselves and their families that will help them build and maintain assets. When people are buying houses, maintaining a home or steady residence, and are paying on their debts, it positively affects the local economy.

Financial education is more than just gaining a budgeting tip here and a saving strategy there. This knowledge converts into skills, which convert attitudes, and those attitudes affect behavior. What you’re left with is healthy financial habits. Those that take charge of their personal finance and choose to become informed consumers avoid scams, predatory lending and other deceptive practices, and can effectively address their needs versus wants.

Family Services, Inc. (FSI), as a charter member of NeighborWorks America, aligns itself with the initiative to help end poverty and raise better awareness for financial education. Their staff of licensed professionals is dedicated to highlighting the importance of financial capability and helping those in the community establish and maintain healthy financial habits. Through its programs and services, FSI advocates, counsels, and educates for clients so they can make the most of what they have.

Written by: Sarah Cornwall, Marketing Resources, at Family Services, Inc.