The National Foundation for Credit Counseling announced the six-month activity report of the Sharpen Your Financial Focus program. With generous funding from Bank of America, Chase, GE Capital Retail Finance and Wells Fargo in support of financial education, the three-step program was launched September 16, 2013, with an initial goal of enrolling 30,000 consumers in the first year.
The consumer-centric program, designed to assist consumers with immediate financial concerns as well as build a solid financial future, includes the following features:
MyMoneyCheckUp, an online financial self-assessment tool designed to increase financial awareness and provide consumers with concrete steps to improve their financial well-being;
A financial review with an NFCC Certified Financial Professional for a one-on-one in-depth assessment of their financial situation, and
An opportunity to receive further targeted education, such as participating in a workshop or a follow-up coaching session.
Below is a snapshot of the results of the first six months of program activity:
To date, more than 20,000 consumers from a diverse array of states have enrolled in the program, and have completed at least two of the three steps.
Demographics show that the majority of participants are white and female, and 40% are either married or living with a partner.
The median age is 42, with no significant difference in age between male and female participants.
Forty-three percent are renters and a total of forty-one percent of the participants are homeowners or in the process of looking to purchase a home.
Nearly sixty percent have at least some post-high school education.
The average monthly income of participants is $3,552, with an average unsecured debt total of $7,610.
Seventy-three percent of program participants reported zero savings, while 83 percent reported less than $100 in savings.
The reason given most often for seeking help was unemployment or underemployment.
Consumers are very thankful to have such a comprehensive program available to them. As an example, two testimonials from NFCC member agency American Financial Solutions are provided below:
From Carl V. Rezendes of Saugus, MA: “The MyMoneyCheckUp tool was excellent. It gave me a better perspective as to my financial 'blood pressure' and allowed me to visually see where I needed improvement. It also offered me tips regarding what areas I needed to focus on. I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in reaching their financial goals.”
From Lance White of Hastings, MN: “I finished MyMoneyCheckUp, and you were right, it did open my eyes. I can easily turn this around. I look forward to moving ahead and appreciate your help.”
“The positive response to the Sharpen Your Financial Focus program proves that consumers are ready to embrace financial education delivered through a trustworthy source,” said NFCC President and CEO Susan C. Keating. “NFCC and the financial institutions represented in the Sharpen Alliance not only recognized the need for an increased understanding of personal finance, but met it. The network of more than 600 NFCC member agencies and 2,000 Certified Financial Professionals nationwide and in Puerto Rico is proud to provide the critical skills American consumers need to secure a healthy financial future.”