Promoting Financial Literacy

Here’s a government initiative I like. The City of Richmond’s Treasurer’s Office is holding its first Financial Literacy Fair this Friday. States the press release:

The purpose of this fair is to empower the citizens of Richmond to take more control of their finances and begin the initial steps needed to build personal wealth. The mission of the Richmond City Treasurer’s Office is to inspire, encourage and pursue the high possibilities of potential in others through the elimination of financial barriers by taking “Small Steps for Big Change.” This literacy fair is one step toward big change in the lives of our Richmond residents.

The fair will hold workshops such as Banking 101, Budgeting and Saving, Balling with Budget and Credit. Financial counselors will be onsite.

Bacon’s bottom line: One reason — I’m not saying it’s the main reason, but it’s a contributing factor — that people fall into the poverty trap is that they often make poor financial decisions. The literacy affair addresses a root cause of poverty. Let’s hope it gets great attendance!

There are currently no comments highlighted.

11 responses to “Promoting Financial Literacy

  1. While I agree generally with Jim’s premise regarding financial literacy, are we not all astounded by the irony that the city of Richmond will hold a Financial Literacy Fair? 😉

  2. LOL is right, of course.

    BUT

    This is the sort of program, IF FOR A CHANGE WE ARE SERIOUS, that should be a mandatory part of Fast Forward program that Steve Moret is helping to put together to give people skills to get and keep and thrive with a real job, along with several other life skills programs of similar ilk. How to speak and write clearly and to the point. How to act with basic manners. How to maintain basic health, and good habits, and basic self control. All the things that people learned every day in a healthy society. The kinds of learning experiences that far more people growing up used to have, but have no more.

  3. For what it’s worth, the teaching financial of literacy is mandatory at Virginia schools. I’m not sure how much sinks in with teenagers. I well recall my son taking the course, but I have not been impressed by the rectitude of his financial conduct. The lessons might not have sunk in because at that point in his life, he had no bank account, no credit car, no mortgage. I suspect that financial literacy needs to be a lifelong learning process.

  4. Reed, no argument there. But it has to go back further than writing clearly. First, you have to know some words with which to write clearly. My wife is involved with adult literacy programs, both English and math. Many of the “adults” she encounters have extremely poor vocabularies and cannot add or subtract.
    In Richmond, where we both tutored in the elementary schools, we found that a significant portion of kids were left behind at about the 2nd grade level. As they went along, it became more and more difficult to dig them out. My niece and nephew who are involved in education tell me that you cannot take somebody operating at a 2nd grade level and start teaching them things at the 8th grade level. All of this is anecdotal, of course. I’ll leave it to Jim and the rest of you to dig out the statistics.

    • CrazyJD –

      Your wife, niece, and nephew are exactly right on all counts. The best and most authoritative books by far on these issues generally are:

      1/ Cultural Literacy, what every American needs to know, by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. (get the updated and expanded edition) and all his later books generally.

      2/ Becoming Human, A theory of Ontogeny, by Micheal Tomasello, who like E. D. Hirsch, Jr., is a world expert on the subject on which he’s spent a lifetime. Becoming Human, just published in 2019, highlights the critical and often irreplaceable importance of early education to the future of every child.

      Both of these books are critically important to one’s ability to understand their subject, hence seminal works on their topics.

    • re: ” In Richmond, where we both tutored in the elementary schools, we found that a significant portion of kids were left behind at about the 2nd grade level. As they went along, it became more and more difficult to dig them out”

      how did that happen? that those kids never got past 2nd grade level?

    • 2nd grade is where the transition starts from learn to read to read to learn.

      If they cannot “read” well – the grades after that are downhill and often lead to discipline issues and drop out.

      Kids with educated parents who help them – usually easily get through 2nd grade.

      Kids who do not have educated parents often do not.

      That’s where the Federal “Title” program are designed to intervene but the money to do it is limited and no where near enough for schools that have large numbers of these kids.

      So now do you fix this?

      • “So now do you fix this?”

        You intervene with learning programs for infants from Day One, the day they are born. And you intervene with mothers while pregnant. Otherwise, in this society, you will have many kids doomed at birth, and many more kids by age 3 and 6.

  5. Somehow I don’t see it as a job or function of government to teach financial literacy.
    Whose tax dollars are paying for this by the way.
    Many are not really financially ignorant,,, they are just straight up irresponsible. The know they should save and prepare, but the desire to have it now rules their lives. They will buy cigarettes and beer and make sure the cable bill is paid so they can watch the game or race while stiffing the landlord. Only the school of hard knocks can fix that.

  6. Well I agree with one proviso. Financial irresponsibility is not limited to just the poor and the govt (taxpayers) pick up the tab for these folks when they go to the ER or get food stamps, Medicaid, TANF, etc.

    We all pay when they have costs….. it becomes OUR costs!

    The average savings account by income:

    Under $25,000: $500
    $25,000-44,999: $1,500
    $45,000-69,999: $2,200
    $70,000-114,999: $5,400
    $115,000-159,999: $10,000
    $160.000+: $50,000

    by age:

    Under 35: $1,580
    35-44: $5,000
    45-54: $6,500
    55-64: $8,500
    65-74: $10,000
    75+: $11,000

    but the really big divide is whether a worker is with an employer that provides benefits – health care and pension and most folks who are not well educated do not get jobs of that caliber and that’s key.

    No matter how good you are at finances, if you don’t make much money and don’t have health care and a pension – your finances are fragile.

    Doing volunteer taxes for low income demographics provides insight to this. Many forget that even low income have to do their taxes! It’s simply amazing to see the income levels of some folks – 15-20K that somehow they manage to live on. No health insurance, not putting money into a pension. One financial “oops” and they are behind on their rent or in debt to a hospital for thousands of dollars they’ll never be able to pay; it bankrupts them, results in denial of credit and assures that they’ll never escape from that circumstance.

    No matter how careful you are with money – it’s virtually impossible to maintain any level of financial security at this income level.

Leave a Reply