These days, we hear so much about the economy. Usually, the conversation or broadcast is pointing the finger at some one or some entity or agency. What is left out of the equation is the individual consumer. Actually, the fact that there is an equation is never analyzed.
Education starts at home. Economics starts at home. Consumers' buying power is not only affected by how many dollars they earn. There is power in the spending decisions made every day. No one can dispute having or making more money isn't a plus or doesn't help but even more important is what we do with the money once we have it.
One of the most significant lessons I learned, after years of practicing consumer bankruptcy law, is how the majority of people view and treat money. At the point during which I got it, I'd been filing bankruptcy cases for approximately ten years. The years since that pivot moment for me have been just as insightful, and since that moment in time, I have been on a mission to increase financial literacy, now, for more than ten years. When I began writing, talking and presenting to adults and young adults, no one was talking about the great need for a basic education in economics. In fact, those whom I approached were amongst a minority interested in learning how to better manage their finances and avoiding traps of indebtedness.
The most common comment I heard as a bankruptcy attorney is, "Ms. Stokes, I just don't make enough money." Who couldn't use more money?! More money is not the issue and, frankly, it is seldom the answer. What I discovered was that, regardless of the amount of money the client made and brought home, it was the lack of management skills that affected the bottom line dollar.
I soon realized a proactive approach was necessary to address the financial literacy concerns I encountered on a regular basis. I, further, felt compelled to focus my mission on young people. With the objective of breaking cycles of financial illiteracy, I wrote a book for teens and young adults. Taking the primary areas of financial concern, as revealed through bankruptcy practice, I designed a handbook to give youth a foundation in basic finance management principles. The book, next, became the source for basic finance management workshops for teens and young adults.
While my focus is typically on the needs of youth, I still assist the older generations with their financial management concerns. In fact, my legal practice includes helping consumers resolve debt disputes. Another area of finance-related legal assistance I provide clients is cleaning up credit reports. Additionally, there is a host of practices and tips I share as key steps to improving financial stability and growth.
Finally, a critical component of managing one's money is understanding when, where, why and how to spend. There are discretionary expenses and there are necessary expenses. There is the decision to pay cash or use credit. There is the question of whether to spend at a particular time. There is the socially responsible dilemma of where we should spend our money.
The enriching of one's bank account really is a reflection of the value held for self. A person with an appreciation of self-worth understands the significance of spending money when the purchase further enriches the very essence of the individual. I, for example, do not shop in stores in which no one offers to assist me but spies on and follows me around the store. I, furthermore, do not spend my money with business owners whose philosophies and practices oppress me through a suppression of my rights and blatant stands on lack of respect for the people and things I value. These are some of my convictions. Each person has to determine and stand on her convictions ... if there is to be a change for the better.
If there is to be an improvement of one's financial standing and a better quality of life, there must be an investment in consumer education. There must be a commitment to self.
We invite you to call on our law firm to discuss how we can help you with your finance management concerns and how you can grow financially from wherever you are. Make the decision to learn how improving economics starts at home.
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