Solutions to help families hurting in their wallets

00_TeneshiaLaFayeAmerican families are hurting. Most of us live paycheck to paycheck and are one missed paycheck from a financial disaster.

We have to deal with housing, groceries, transportation, utilities, healthcare and child care and still have money left over to save for a comfortable retirement.

But ends just aren’t meeting for many of us.

Making ends meet
So it was an honor to talk about solutions at a Florida Prosperity Partnership town hall meeting with my oldest son and business partner recently at the United Way in Orlando.

At the meeting, we talked about a holistic solution for the many families struggling to make ends meet when the cost of living in Florida has gone up 13 percent while incomes have dipped two percent from 2007-2012, making it even harder for families to live and save for an emergency fund.

So what’s the solution to helping families recover in their finances?

Kaye Schmitz, president and CEO of the FPP, suggested that businesses and organizations band together in their communities to collaborate for a one-stop shop for tax preparation, financial education, banking and retirement.

Lars Gilberts, director of United Way in Broward County, suggested teaching “financial coping strategies” that are more important than “the dollars you make.” He said raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 won’t solve families’ financial issues.

Predatory lenders
April Atkins of the FDIC recommended encouraging people to deal with banks, where each individual’s accounts are ensured up to $250,000, instead of using alternative and predatory financial services, such as pawn shops, payday loans, rent-to-own stores and check cashing shops.

A couple of speakers suggested a proactive approach by teaching children good money habits, asking young people what they want to be when they grow up and getting teenagers as early as middle school on a track to earn a certificate, a license or a two-year college degree and get into the workforce.

“Our motto is get a career in about a year, and be ready to work in a career you enjoy,” said Wendy Oliver, a career and technical education coordinator in Orange County Public Schools.

This helps with the problem of college students dropping out of four-year degree programs because of cost and being saddled with more than $25,000 in student loans.

My favorite suggestions were the community collaborations so people can have access to a team of experts to advise them and help them improve their financial situation. I also support the idea of teaching youth to be sensible with their money.

Teneshia LaFaye is a former newspaper journalist and a nationally certified financial education instructor. Start working on your financial mindset by “liking” MyTenSense on Facebook for free daily money tips.

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