Financial stability is about much more than economics. When families have their basic needs covered and have savings and assets, it positively impacts every aspect of their lives. Unfortunately, the current pandemic has intensified job losses, food insecurity and caused other economic uncertainties.
In fact, many individuals and families in Maricopa County are having to make difficult choices every day between paying for rent and utilities, buying groceries or paying for child care.
The pandemic has most likely affected many households’ financial stability in some way and this impacts the entire family. A job loss for one or both parents can have a devastating impact on the family budget. This “new normal” can be confusing or can create a sense of uncertainty for children who may not understand the full impact this has caused for the family.
Often, how a family manages money is determined in childhood by what is observed through the behaviors of parents or grandparents. Think about how money was handled in your home growing up during good times and in lean times. Can you remember who was “in charge” of the money then? What about now?
During uncertain times, like in today’s world, it’s important to talk to the entire family about current or potential money challenges and remember to involve children in the conversation.
If money management in your childhood home didn’t seem to work, you probably have made some improvements. A simple discussion of how and why the family manages money, or even what should be done differently to improve it, can give a child new insight on how to think about money beyond just the spending side of finances.
Teaching children about money management at an early age can provide them with the knowledge on how to separate funds into the different “needs,” “wants” and “giving back” categories. Consider conversation starters like “What do you think the best way is to save for emergencies might be?” or “What do you want to save money for?” Be upfront about what’s going on with the family financially, and remember to keep the conversation age-appropriate. More tips on talking to kids about money can be found HERE. Show your child how savings can be fun with an owl bank craft. To make savings a "hoot" click HERE.
Valley of the Sun United Way has been dedicated to increasing financial stability for vulnerable residents in Maricopa County through important efforts including its Financial Coaching Training program. This program trained case managers, who worked directly with community members in financial crisis.
Case managers were trained as financial coaches through a 32-hour intensive, interactive, hands-on training to develop coaching competencies and a deeper understanding of financial content. The “coaching” program was designed to create short-term results as well as build the long-term capability of community members, with the goal of financial self-sufficiency.
Historically, United Way has been the only non-profit organization in the county to provide free financial coaching training to case managers from nonprofits, government, education, and faith-based organizations.
Since the program’s inception in 2011, there have been more than 1,000 Financial Coaching Training graduates. Over this timeframe, trained coaches have helped more than 22,000 individuals and families in our community achieve at least one key financial stability measure, such as creating a savings account or purchasing a home.
Due to health and safety precautions, the Financial Coaching Training program is not currently being offered at this time. Our organization is focusing instead on providing support and funding to partner programs in the community that help build up financial stability among Maricopa County families.