A majority of Americans’ 2023 resolutions include financial goals, according to a recent survey. Many people are trying to save more money and with good reason — 49 percent of Americans cannot cover a $400 emergency expense without going into debt. Across the country, 18 percent of those earning more than $100,000 report living paycheck-to-paycheck. Despite a median household income in Jefferson County of $86,711, many in our community likely have no emergency savings.
Locally, free educational resources are available to help individuals and families manage their money. Almost all include content for children and young adults. With almost 80 percent of millennials using online banking, compared to 48 percent of baby boomers, many of the training resources for kids and young adults are online. While giant financial firms such as Fidelity and Vanguard also have such resources, local-based businesses and their employees know the community and can personally engage.
Community Banks Assist With Resources
For example, in 2022 Jefferson Security Bank (JSB) supported over 80 community and non-profit organizations through sponsorships and volunteer time. “As a local community bank, our financial literacy initiatives align with our mission and our leadership’s passion and commitment to supporting lifelong financial wellness,” says Jenna Kesecker, JSB’s Executive Vice President and CFO. “That commitment is why we partner with local schools and organizations to provide financial education that will positively impact and strengthen our community.”
Examples of free, local resources available include:
“Get a Life” budget training — Students practice living within a budget in hands-on training sponsored by the West Virginia Treasurer’s Office. Download the free program to do at home or look for a future in-person class through Jefferson County Schools with support from community volunteers.
Game-based education — Jefferson Security Bank offers Zogo, a free mobile app with bite-sized modules on financial topics such as how to open a bank account and how to protect your investments. For each module completed, users earn points in the form of virtual pineapples that can be redeemed for gift cards at Starbucks, Target, Amazon, and other shops. So far JSB has enrolled over 500 users with more than $800 rewarded. Centsables, another free mobile app, is available from the Bank of Charles Town.
Online training — Dollars + Sense is City National Bank’s online financial education program for adults and children. In the classroom, Jefferson Security Bank supports teachers to use Banzai, financial literacy software. Shepherd University also provides personal finance information designed for students and prospective students on its “Be Legit and Financially Fit” website.
In-person education —JSB employees, including Mary Álvaro, Community Impact Coordinator, volunteer to conduct in-person training. A recent classroom experience made a big impression, says Álvaro. “I had the privilege of going to James Rumsey and doing a presentation on banking services, loan options, and how to build/maintain credit.” At the end, she said, “I had one gentleman tell me I changed his life.”
This year, inflation and recession pressures have made personal finances a higher priority for many if not most of us. Investing some time to learn (or brush up on) the fundamentals of personal finance is likely to return benefits.By Staff Contributor