The recent stress on individuals, families and organizations, both large and small, is immense! COVID-19 ravaged the lives of many people from a health and economic standpoint. As we slowly attempt to get back to a semblance of “normalcy,” there is a realization that the damage caused by this lifetime event will linger for years to come.
As word has spread about the impact on our country, I’ve been disappointed, but not surprised to hear that People of Color (POC) have been adversely impacted. The news is disturbing, and the impact is and will be severe as we move forward. However, as a society, we have an opportunity to change a trend that has been magnified by this event.
Financial Literacy for Children
Health is a complex topic that I won’t attempt to address here. However, I will touch briefly on the low level of financial literacy in our country among all people and especially POC. Along with the financial industry, there is a need for schools, community groups and for profit organizations to focus on education and financial literacy. Sam X Renick, and other organizations like his, have done a wonderful job of attempting to change the tide by providing educational resources for children at a young age. Impacting the next generation by focusing on financial literacy can provide a solid foundation that could result in positive change for generations to come.
Financial Literacy for Parents
The work being done to educate children is happening; but unfortunately, it’s on a relatively small scale. So much more is needed. In addition to the work being done to educate our youth, the focus should also be on providing education to parents. If adults improved their knowledge level and behavior, the children would see the principles that they learned at school or other venues modeled in the home as well. In my opinion, the best case is that parents were comfortable teaching basic financial principles to their children. Organizations, churches and community groups can play a role here. Dave Ramsey and the work that he is doing through Financial Peace have a positive impact on the lives of many people. In some ways, his tools provide the opportunity for parents and children to learn together. It’s important that parents are prepared and comfortable reinforcing money concepts taught to children. Parents have a huge impact on the attitudes and behavior of their children, as they are their children’s first teacher.
Lack of Unbiased Financial Planning and Advice
In addition to education, there is also a tremendous need for unbiased financial planning and advice that is made available to everyday people from all walks of life. In the area of finances, a financial planner can be a partner and help fill the education and planning void. A financial planner can help you develop a plan or a road map of how you will manage your finances to achieve important life goals. They can also provide educational programs for businesses and non-profit organizations. Unfortunately, having a financial planner is not as common as it should be.
Based on a survey completed by Northwestern Mutual, approximately 65% of people don’t work with a financial advisor. Based on my experience growing up, I would venture to say that for POC, the number is much higher. In my community, personal finance wasn’t something that was taught or readily discussed. Now that I am in the industry, I realized what we missed and what many others are missing. I also realize the need for changing the financial literacy trajectory and helping people, from all walks of life, understand the importance of financial planning and developing a legacy of wealth that is passed on from generation to generation and used to improve the world.
There are many reasons why many people don’t work with a financial planner. Some include previous conditioning, a lack of awareness of the need to have one, an inability to find someone who would be willing to work with them or that can be trusted. Here are a few of my thoughts about the reasons why financial planning isn’t as prevalent as it must become in many communities.
- There is a belief that you have to be extremely wealthy to afford or need the services of an advisor.
- There is a belief that money management is necessary only if you make a tremendous amount of money.
- Most of your friends or the people you know may not have one.
- False sense of security that you are making good money. Probably more than parents made. So you might ask, Why the need to plan? Also there is a misguided notion that income or a paycheck equals wealth or net worth.
- There is a concern that a financial planner will want to sell you something and you may be uncomfortable, because you don’t understand money concepts or investing.
- Leaders in most organizations don’t address the issue or topic and don’t model or encourage financial literacy or financial planning.
It’s important that we change these perceptions and the conversation around money. The color of money isn’t just green; it’s a plan. Taking action in this area may require that you go against the grain and become comfortable when you’re uncomfortable. It will mean thinking long-term and making small consistent investments today in education and saving for the future. It will also mean overcoming limiting beliefs about money that have been passed down from previous generations. These are areas in which a financial planner can help.
If you’re concerned about being sold something, find a fee-only planner or coach who doesn’t sell products or receive commissions. They’re out there, I happen to be one. There are also a few organizations like the Garrett Planning Network of which I am a member, who are committed to leveling the playing field when it comes to making financial planning more accessible and making financial literacy the norm. It is possible to achieve success in your finances, but it will take making a decision and then taking the appropriate action consistently over a long period of time. Join Kelly Financial Planning on a crusade to change the conversation about money and bring financial planning and freedom to people from all walks of life. #lifeplanning #strengthenthecore #enjoythejourney