Household CFOs – Take Charge of Family Finances
Sep 14 2008

All of us managing households during these challenging economic times, should read Mechel Glass’ guest post below.  Mechel is Household CFO’s Director of Education. 

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On top of the other things I do, I manage the finances in our household, and I can appreciate the time and thought it takes to make sure your finances are in order.   It’s even more important when you have a family and kids to plan for.  I can’t say that I’m an expert at it and I’m sure I could do better if I had more time sit down with my husband to think about it, but we do the best we can.  Thankfully, I had a mother, who like Mechele, taught me the value of saving, budgeting, and not overspending when I was young.  I also had the inner drive to work hard, be independent, and support myself.  So it wasn’t so hard to live within my means as I got older.  Thanks Mom!

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My daughter, Sarah Amirah, has had a piggy bank since the day she was born. Of course, it took a few years before she was aware that it was filling up with coins and bills. But now that she’s four, she’s on her second piggy bank and is somewhat aware that she is accumulating some serious coinage with the change I let her have from trips to the grocery store. 

Her first piggy bank is one of those old-fashioned ceramic ones that you can’t sneak into. I think the only way to get at the cash is to smash it. Smash the pretty gift from her grandmother to get the cash? That won’t be an easy decision! 

Although it may seem like I started financial education very early with Sarah, I think there is no reason to postpone teaching children little lessons about saving. Truth is, many adults these days are putting themselves at risk because they never developed savings habits. 

Through my position at Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of Greater Atlanta, I talk to people everyday who are so overwhelmed with handling day-to-day finances like paying bills and managing bank accounts and credit cards that they can’t make plans for unexpected emergencies or long-term needs. Adding even more stress is the increased cost of groceries and gas, which has led many of these families to the verge of financial crisis. 

The reality is two in three “Household CFOs” – those primarily responsible for the household finances – do not have an emergency savings account, putting them at financial risk in the event of a crisis. Our recent national survey also found that nearly one in three households has not prepared a will, purchased insurance of any kind or made other preparations for a significant life-changing event. Yet, almost half of those surveyed have already experienced some sort of financial setback within their household in the past year.

In response to our survey findings and the current economic conditions, we are launching a national financial awareness campaign, “Household CFO” and enhancing our CredAbilityU online education program to offer free on-demand courses, interactive webinars and financial management tools. Through this program, we hope to provide tangible solutions that real Household CFOs can use in today’s economically challenging times. 

At CredAbilityU.org, online classes are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on a variety of topics – from homeownership to money management to dealing with bankruptcy. Live webinars on special topics are also scheduled throughout each month. You can also sign up to receive the Household CFO Report, our free newsletter, which offers monthly tips and advice on how to take control of family finances. 

But don’t stop at CredAbilityU.org; there are a host of free resources available that offer practical information and helpful tools, including:

  • Ÿ Consumer advocate Ilyce Glink’s site, www.ThinkGlink.com
  • Ÿ Credit score-reporting site, www.MyFico.com
  • Ÿ Free credit report site, www.AnnualCreditReport.com 

And, don’t get discouraged – it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but there is help out there and it won’t take long before you feel more capable and confident in your role as the chief financial officer of your household.

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