By Melinda Burns
Financial Well-Being is having the resources to pay living expenses and other bills on time, to live safely, to maintain good health and to save as much as possible. It includes having the skills and knowledge to manage financial resources or having the supports to do so. Resources can come through income, benefits or a combination of both. Financial Well-Being can be achieved by having a realistic, working budget to achieve financial goals.
1) Can one achieve this if they have considerable debt?
Yes, one can achieve Financial Well-Being even with considerable debt. Each situation is individual and would usually include: a step-by-step plan to evaluate overall debt including finance charges, decisions on which debt(s) are priority to pay off, and creation of an automatic monthly re-payment schedule. The next step is to evaluate wants and needs, cut expenses wherever possible and not incur any additional debt. The real challenge is to then be able to live within the remaining funds after re-payments are made each month.
2) What steps can be taken/how do we achieve Financial Well-Being?
The basic steps to start toward Financial Well-Being are to:
a) Set realistic short-term (3 month) and long-term (1 year) financial goals.
b) Create a budget that includes all income and expenses. Add savings as an automatic expense. Cut unnecessary expenses, such as cell phone or cable/Internet plans that include more than you need. Plan for unexpected expenses.
c) Set up a monthly bill payment calendar that includes the dates that bills are due. Pay bills on time through automatic payments or online payments.
d) Stick to your budget. Always ask: Is it a want or a need?
e) Evaluate your budget monthly. Adjust as needed, e.g. if expenses in any area increase.
f) Set up regular savings and retirement accounts. Contribute as much as possible to these accounts.
g) As you achieve goals, set new ones. Maintaining good spending and savings habits can be a goal!
3) What services do you offer through Adult Education?
We offer financial literacy workshops, small group and 1-1 sessions through Adult Education to assist individuals in managing their finances. We offer comprehensive financial literacy, including curriculum and community-based resources, to address the specific needs of each student. Services include: understanding money and its uses, "reading" paycheck stubs, budgeting, paying bills, checking and savings account management, improving credit scores, personal and car loans, dealing with debt collectors, and assistance with purchasing a home. As a CA$H coalition of the Greater Capital Region, we also offer free income tax preparation for federal and state returns. If you are interested in learning more about financial literacy services available through Adult Education, please contact Melinda Burns, Director of Adult Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org.