Aug 19, 2019
Erin L. Weber, CFP®, CPFC®
You’ve probably heard about America’s savings crisis. One explanation is the lack of discipline to save regularly. But it’s also about the absence of personal finance knowledge. Today’s women must possess fundamental financial literacy skills to manage their finances now, and in the future. My mission is to teach them how.
I met Sarah at one of my educational seminars at The Center For Women here in Pittsburgh. She had recently separated from her husband and participated in the many outstanding services offered by The Center, which included financial mentoring. Thinking she needed more help in this area, Sarah signed up for my seminar.
As a bookkeeper by trade, Sarah managed her money well, kept a budget, had no bad debt and paid off her credit card balances every month. However, now in her fifties, and facing a new stage of life as a single Mom, she financially didn’t know what she didn’t know, until she didn’t know it.
The basic struggles
Sarah’s biggest struggle was the lack of planning for her future. She would ask: “Am I going to be able to retire?” “Do I have enough assets?” “Will they do what I need them to do?” These are typical questions when husbands control the investing and wives are left out of it. The whole point of financial literacy is for women to gain an early start. Sarah made my job easier, not because of her background, but because of her willingness and desire to want to get involved.
She was probably the best mentoree I could ever work with. Usually, when I meet a person who needs my help, they immediately want to dive in by me giving them the answers and solutions. However, Sarah wanted to understand, and then take her finances into her own hands. This was especially important for her to ensure she had everything she needed before going through a divorce.
In working with Penn State college students, alumni, and women in transition, I often see people who are uncomfortable not knowing about finances. They don’t want to appear unintelligent to their peers. Whereas, when women get comfortable with the content, they are more intrigued and want to ask more questions like Sarah.
Building trust makes it all work
At Hefren-Tillotson, we want to know where Sarah is at, where she’s going and how she expects to get there. We look at what she has and what her goals are enabling us to help her achieve the end goal. We are in a relationship business. The pieces won’t fall into place if we haven’t built it around trust, honesty, transparency and open-mindedness. How could I help anyone if it wasn’t?
When building a relationship, I learn about a person’s likes and dislikes, what they want out of life and their personal interests. I was surprised to learn about Sarah’s love for the outdoors and the environment, interests we both share. She is training to be a forest therapy guide and currently conducting weekend guiding trips. How cool is that? I’m jealous!
There is so much to be thankful for
I like to be encouraging, which is why I do what I do – empowering women to take control. When I connected with The Center, my mission was to help women like Sarah gain power over their finances. This gives them the knowledge to develope financial literacy that will last them a lifetime. Working with her has been truly inspiring.
If you would like to change your life and get on the road to financial literacy, please attend one of my seminars or webinars. I would love to meet and talk with you!
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