Financial Education and Poverty
The most pressing social issue that has the most impact on the ability of people to be healthy and economically self-sufficient is financial education. For an individual or family unit to become economically viable, they must be educated in the proper uses of their income. An individual can be gainfully employed and still be in danger of becoming homeless. This occurs when this individual or familial unit exceeds their income through purchases that are not needed.
As we approach the close of the holiday season, many families will find themselves purchasing costly items with income or credit that is insufficient. These families will begin the new year in a financial deficit. A root of this situation is lack of education regarding the best uses of their income. Financial literacy is a subject that is dangerously lacking from educational institutions. This lack of financial education has a direct impact on families becoming economically viable and contributes to an increase in evictions.
The month of February generally brings with it an increase in evictions due to the financial overextension perpetrated during the holiday season. Unfortunately, evictions are becoming all too common. We are beginning to see evictions rise in the apartment sector, though they are still present in the home sector. There is a direct correlation between the rise in these evictions and financial education. While employed with the Utah Department of Workforce Services, many of the customers that I assisted in gaining state benefits were facing eviction.
I noticed that a high percentage of these individuals lacked any education in managing their personal or familial finances. I began a program entitled, Next Generation Kids. This program assisted families in applying for state benefits to also have access to financial literacy programs for themselves and their children. I was able to partner with a number of financial institutions and nonprofits to create and distribute a money management curriculum through this program that had a direct impact on the decrease of the rate of evictions filed in the State of Utah.