April’s recognition as “National Financial Literary Month” started as early as year 2000 by non-profit organizations like the National Endowment for Financial Education. It was their way of helping youth learn the value of saving, good credit and the virtues of smart investing. I recall later in 2011, when President Barack Obama added his support to the initiative with an official Presidential Proclamation. As stated in the proclamation:
“Americans’ ability to build a secure future for themselves and their families requires the navigation of an increasingly complex financial system. As we recover from the worst economic crisis in generations, it is more important than ever to be knowledgeable about the consequences of our financial decisions.”
Eight years removed from the proclamation, I remain in a state of concern about the ability of many to absorb the multitude of factors that continue to evolve and ultimately control financial destiny. I see this as a contributor to the widening wealth gap in America and a need for a better game plan if people are to turn this disturbing trend around.
A sports analogy I often use is one of basketball. Players want to win, so they become invested in and stewards of the game. They know only five guys play on the court, 2 halves in each game, 2 and 3 point plays. They strategize about offense AND defense and the rules that govern “ball position”, “blocked shots”, “rebounds” and “pass assists”. They use this information to get ahead and stay ahead. (Sometimes they become so confident, they don’t want referees. They just scream… “That’s a FOUL” or “He travelled”. I’ll save that issue for a different blog).
My observation is that when it comes to understanding finances, too many people are not engaged enough to win. They are on the virtual sideline of a game their hard-earned money is forced to play. The bank tells them which savings account is best, their employer directs all their 401k or 457 options, the health, auto and home insurance industries determine the cost and coverage they can get, and government dictates how much tax they will pay. Hard to see how your money could perform better, be more secure or grow faster when you don’t understand that you have other options.
Nine out of ten people that I meet have not developed a strategic coordinated plan to ensure that they are optimizing their resources to meet their financial objectives. Some are successful professionals believing (and hoping) that making money is the same as sustaining money. This is far from true. Others are just too busy with “life” and have hope and faith money will be there when they need it.
As a community of creative, caring, hardworking and proud people, if we can’t help everyone, I know everyone can help someone! In recognition of National Financial Literacy Month, I am challenging all to seek the help they need to understand the financial rules and options available We must be better players in this real-life game of economic empowerment if we dare to create wealth and legacy for our families.
Eric D. Bailey
Eric Bailey is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors.
Securities and advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker/dealer (Member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. Bailey Wealth Advisor is not an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Advisors.