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Improving Americans’ Financial Literacy Has Never Been More Important

Robert M. Church

DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation

Millions of Americans are coping with stress and anxiety as they deal with the unpredictability of their personal financial situations and the future due to the economic uncertainty created by the pandemic. 

At-risk populations including moderate-low income, impoverished, women and single parents are increasingly burdened with fears that include the lack of savings, job loss, inability to afford daily expenses, pay debts and their children’s future abilities to afford college. These are very real fears and their impact affects the present and future generations of families.  

Nearly half (45%) of U.S. adults have reported that overall mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the virus, according to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted during March 2020. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that 69% of Americans ages 18 and up report having financial worries. In addition, a survey by the Brookings Institute states about 17.4% of mothers cannot afford to feed their children. The results of these surveys indicate that financially at-risk populations such as low-income families and women are particularly affected.

ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN + GIRLS: Because women are disproportionately impacted by the financial crisis, it is essential to equip women with more tools to manage finances. While women make up approximately 47% of a valuable and highly productive workforce in America, more than 41% (pre-COVID19) of the female population struggles financially. Women are eager for information about personal finance, financial planning, and investing, and studies prove that 92% of women want to learn more.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other studies show that women have lower financial literacy levels then men in both developed and developing countries, particularly in certain demographics including young and low-income women.   

ADVANCEMENT OF MINORITIES: The Chairman of the Federal Reserve Mr. Jerome Powell recently addressed questions regarding the effects of COVID19 and unemployment trends among low income and minority groups. Chairman Powell shared that low-income and minority groups are more severely affected by the economic conditions created under COVID19 experiencing job loss, business closures, Loss of family-owned small businesses and other opportunities for financial advancement. 

Financial exclusion also plays a significant role in increasing poverty and limiting prosperity for all. Studies show that ethnic minorities have lower access to mortgage funding, pay more for mortgages when they get them, and are more likely to be subject to predatory lending practices. The inability to access quality personal and financial education also stands as an impediment toward achieving overall economic success and to the success of future generations of families. 

We are not doing enough to prepare Americans with the skills needed to secure a lifetime of financial responsibility.  Only SIX States require a standalone course in personal finance to be offered under k-12 educational standards. 

While providing quality personal finance education can benefit anyone, regardless of age, income, or background for at-risk populations the impact can be increasingly more positive. FitKit Comprehensive Personal Finance school and community programs seek to empower, build self-confidence, build personal finance skills, and give voice to financially at-risk individuals and families to ensure future generations achieve their financial goals and aspirations.

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