“What If?” DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation’s Post-Holiday Financial Tips
By: Andrew Anastasio, MSM Lead @ DMFLF
The holidays have come and gone; decorations have been taken down; presents have been unwrapped and your extended family has flown home. You settle in for the long winter months ahead and, as a new year dawns, you have time to begin fully understanding the financial impact this season has had on your wallet. You look around you, the house still in a bit of disarray, and you begin to wonder: “What if? What if something were to go wrong at this very moment?” If it were, would you be prepared to burden the financial hardship, or would you, like so many other Americans in the post-holiday climate, be left out in the cold?
If this scenario sounds anything like the way you feel once the buzz of the festive season has settled, you are not alone. According to a MarketWatch article that appeared in early January of 2018, “Shoppers in the U.S. racked up an average of $1,054 of debt this Christmas season — an increase of 5% over last year, according to a survey from MagnifyMoney, a personal finance website”. The article continues by offering the stunning statistic that it had found “44% of shoppers racked up more than $1,000 in holiday debt, and 5% accumulated more than $5,000 in debt.” And, just to show you how scary this sort of debt can be long-term, the article further states that “if the shopper spent $1,054, and paid a minimum payment of $25 each month, he or she would be paying down that balance until 2023. With an average interest rate of 15.9%, according to a MagnifyMoney analysis, fees on that debt could add up to $500”.
These numbers are, of course, a cause for great concern, yet they do not necessarily come as a big surprise. Financial illiteracy is an ailment of society, a majority of Americans find themselves suffering from to at least some degree. It stems from one of the main problems facing us year after year; each succeeding generation has not been taught how to properly understand and manage their financial lives, and because of this they allow credit debt and financial hardship to pile up. More and more, young adults have been filing for bankruptcy. Student loan debts have been consistently rising and many misunderstandings about America’s financial system are leading young people down a road to financial ruin. Our youth is not shown from a young age that they must prepare for any financial difficulties that may lie ahead, and understanding how to manage your money and avoid credit card debt is crucial in living a life that is debt-free.
The problem begins in the classroom. While adolescents and young adults learn history, mathematics, and the sciences, which are all beneficial in their own right, they are never shown how to balance a checkbook, avoid credit debt, and prepare themselves for the reality of student loans after graduation. DoughMain Financial Literacy Foundation believes they are not given the tools necessary to succeed financially; therefore, we watch year-after-year as those we love, and possibly even ourselves, fall back down that endless rabbit hole of debt and slowly paying it off.
Luckily, however, at Doughmain Financial Literacy Foundation we have managed to create a solution to this problem. That solution is the FitKit, a fully tested curriculum designed to teach the fundamentals of personal finance and financial literacy in the classroom. This program, created to be entirely accessible as an aspect of your child’s high school education, displays the intricacies of what it means to be “financially fit” and describes with depth topics such as credit debt, budgeting, insurance, and taxes. The FitKit is exactly what our American educational institutions have been lacking for decades: a curriculum tailored toward people who come from all types of financial backgrounds that wish to be taught how to avoid experiencing financial hardships in the future.
So think back now for a moment to the same scenario as before. The dust has settled, left-overs are wrapped, the kids are back in school. You survey the holiday wreckage with a smile. This time, you know you’re prepared in the unfortunate instance that something occurs which requires acting quickly with your finances. Due to your FitKit education, you no longer need to fret about credit debt or all those pesky “what-if’s”. You’ve learned how to budget, how to spend what you have so you don’t need to be a slave to your credit cards, and now you can begin preparing for next year’s holidays as you take down the lights and tree, knowing your financially free even after the most expensive time of the year.
If our mission inspires you the same way it inspires us, please donate today at: https://doughmaineducationfoundation.salsalabs.org/oceansmultistepeoy/index.html
Paul, Kari. “Here's How Long It Will Take Americans to Pay off Their Christmas Debt.”
MarketWatch, MarketWatch, 2 Jan. 2018,www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-long-it-will-take-americans-to-pay-off-their-christmas-debt-2017-12-29.