Editorial - How would you grade yourself financially?Some people like to complain. It’s a part of their nature to grumble about how bad things are, how the economy has gone to pot, how inept government is in trying to fix it and how other people’s greed caused it.
Some people like to complain. It’s a part of their nature to grumble about how bad things are, how the economy has gone to pot, how inept government is in trying to fix it and how other people’s greed caused it.
While those arguments have merit, many of the people who are making those judgments might want to take a look at their own situation. How financially prepared are they? How closely are they watching their pennies? What are they doing to plan for their future?
The answer, according to a new survey: Not much.
The 2010 survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) involved a nationwide sample of 2,028 adults that are representative of the overall U.S. population.
The survey results spell trouble, according to the NFCC, which highlighted these key findings:
•More than half of all adults (56 percent) still do not have a budget.
•Three in 10 Americans (meaning more than 68 million people) report they have no savings.
•Two-thirds of adults (65 percent) did not order their credit reports, despite being free.
•Thirty-four percent graded themselves a C, D or F on their knowledge of personal finance.
“This recession has changed a lot of lives,” said Geoff Bullock, financial educator at Lutheran Social Services Financial Counseling Service, in a news release that accompanied the survey results. “Our poor financial habits were covered up by a past flood of easy credit, but now that the tide has receded, people are waking up and admitting that they don’t know where all their money even goes.”
Bullock added, “It’s a myth that only people in financial trouble need financial education. In reality, we’re all in the same boat. Most people didn’t get financial training but we all need to build a foundation of good money habits, and that starts with financial education.”
The bottom line: Too many people are on “auto pilot” when it comes to financial planning. They’re living paycheck to paycheck and aren’t planning for the big picture five, 10 or 20 years down the road.
While it’s true that many families are on such tight budgets that they simply don’t have anything left over to plan with, it’s always a good idea to scrutinize spending habits. Maybe there is a part of a budget to trim back, an expense to plug, a cost-saving measure that can add up over time.
More families should invest more energy into talking about their financial goals and how they can achieve them, even if it’s one tiny step at a time. Simply getting a clearer idea of where your money is going can be a very productive start in securing a more stable financial future.
Just like going to school, raising your “financial grade” to an A or a B will take some homework and a little extra effort. But that sure beats complaining.
Echo Press editorials are the position of the newspaper’s editorial board, which includes Jody Hanson, publisher; Al Edenloff, editor; and news reporter Celeste Beam.