Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Financial Literacy Lessons

Recently, I collaborated with the local YWCA and held a one-day workshop on financial empowerment. I was surprised by the number of women who showed up, namely because it was a Saturday morning with shorter daylight hours now that the winter is approaching. 

As I stated in a prior post, many women appear either unwilling or unable to take advantage of economic empowerment causes. The reasons vary from lack of time to self-pronounced ability to manage their finances. Many of these women are sincere, time is a precious commodity when there are kids and jobs involved, especially on the weekend. And for those women who can manage their own money, good for them. 

The workshop was divided into eight topics. The goal was to show women that not only was it important to understand how to save and budget, but also how critical it is to be financially organized. We began our day discussing how to build a wealth center at home. This includes gathering all financial information and documents and organizing them in a manner that makes it accessible. It also includes safekeeping private info and protecting it from hacking. There are several methods to choose from, eother electronic or manually documentation and storage. What matters is that women choose a method that works for them. 

We then moved on to budgeting, saving, and most importantly, how insurance can also help women save money. We evaluated when it was important to buy into insurance by looking at a risk management matrix. The two criteria used to determine whether insurance was worth the expense was frequency and recurrence of risk. The bottom line is that saving money is not always about putting money away for uncertain times, but also incurring expenses to protect ourselves and loved ones from extraordinary losses later. 

We then progressed to savings strategies, looked at various options, and what qualities to look for in a bank. We ended the rather long day talking about professional building and ways to influence our children to love literacy, including in finance and economics. 

As is expected in a teaching environment, I learned from my students that day. Women are phenomenal beings, always ready to sacrifice their resources for improvement. We are willing and dedicated to make change, especially when our loved ones can benefit from that change.  

Research shows that as more women become literate in core abilities, such as reading and  money management, they are morewilling  to pass that knowledge down to the kids and narrow that illiteracy gap. Not sure what men do with that knowledge.  I also learned that although resources are available, many women are not really sure how to use them to their advantage. What they need are more professionals willing to dedicate spare time to demonstrate how. Since many women have and continue to interrupt their own careers and jobs to care for families, having the money to pay for professional advice is a splurge they can't afford. 

The purpose of this workshop was never to make experts out of these women in one day, but mainly to direct them to the resources and tools available to them, many open and free to women so they can get their financial affairs in order. Thanks to the collaboration of many organizations, and the professionals committed to the literacy cause, plus the various governmental services available, that is more a realty than a goal now. 

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