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Learning the Ropes: Financial literacy programs help low-income families
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Published July/August 2000
Author Katy Jacob
Source Shelterforce
URL Click here to view the full document
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For every basic need - food, shelter, medical care, education, and retirement - financial planning has become not just a convenience but an essential survival tool. At the same time, responsibility for financial well-being is increasingly being placed on the shoulders of individuals. Welfare reform has moved millions from government assistance to the ranks of the working poor or permanent job-seekers. Employment-based contribution plans have begun to replace defined benefit programs as the basis for retirement savings, while the future of Social Security has become unclear. Without an appreciation of money concepts and an understanding of financial options, people are likely to pay more than they have to for financial services, fall into debt, damage their credit records, over-invest in life insurance, or declare bankruptcy. Poor financial choices harm both individuals and communities. The good news is there is evidence that financial education can improve financial literacy and, even more importantly, change financial behavior for the better.

   
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