SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – National Financial Literacy Month is recognized in the month of April in the United States in an effort to highlight the importance of financial literacy and teach Americans to establish and maintain healthy financial habits. For the past 15 years, Goodwill Manasota has been committed to promoting financial literacy and ensuring that individuals living at or below the poverty level have the tools they need to effectively manage their money.
A solid financial foundation can lead to a lifetime of financial stability. The classes offered by Goodwill Manasota offer tools, resources and tips to help participants to successfully manage their personal finances and transition from poverty to economic independence. Topics range from credit counseling and using online banking to understanding consumer credit; coursework was developed in collaboration with area banking institutions.
Last year, 32 Goodwill Manasota employees completed "Budgeting 101" on Goodwill U, the organization's online training classes, and 29 completed "Budgeting 201." In 2016, thanks to Goodwill, 325 individuals participated in financial education classes, 257 participated in budgeting classes, and 32 completed the Home Buyers Education program, after which five team members were pre-approved for a mortgage.
A number of surveys show that a large proportion of U.S. consumers fail basic financial literacy tests. In a study conducted by fellows of the TIAA-CREF Institute, Americans over 50 were asked three questions. To answer them correctly, they needed to understand interest rates, the effects of inflation, and the concept of risk diversification. Only one-third of the respondents were able to correctly answer all three questions.
The problem is likely to become worse as Generations X and Y head into middle age: A recent survey from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) found that young Americans were less likely to be financially capable than older Americans. Despite the fact that financial decision-making is more complex today than ever before, 26 states have no financial literacy requirements in their K-12 education systems. Only four states mandate that students take a personal finance class in high school.
Many workers lack the knowledge and tools necessary to make educated decisions related to budgeting, savings, and investments. New entrants to the labor market are also faced with managing expenses incurred by working – such as child care, transportation, and car maintenance – that can place a burden on already limited finances.
“We know that employment is just the first step in the long road to financial security. If someone has never learned how to budget or been taught financial literacy, the chances for self-sufficiency are greatly reduced,” said Goodwill Manasota president and CEO Bob Rosinsky. "We are grateful to corporate partners like SunTrust and Wells Fargo who have supported our financial literacy program with generous grants, and to Manatee Community Federal Credit Union for assisting our team members in building their credit and obtaining home and emergency assistance loans."
For more information about Goodwill, go to experiencegoodwill.org or call (941) 355-2721.
PHOTO ID: Goodwill Manasota Veterans Services Program advisor Edwin Robinson and colleague Nick Bell discuss elements of the financial literacy coursework