I’ve often found that consumers are optimistic at the start of the year. Many have new financial goals and some have made New Year’s Resolutions to improve their finances or become first-time homebuyers. But then February sets in and, for many, that optimism begins to fade.
Studies show that 80 percent of people who make New Year’s Resolutions fail. That’s a sobering thought because failure can leave people demoralized and unmotivated to move forward. Failure can also take away one’s confidence, which can shatter dreams and leave one feeling hopeless.
While we can’t achieve anyone’s financial goals for them, here is how we can help to lower the percentage of people who fail.
We can make financial education more accessible. When people know better, they do better. When people learn more about how to handle their finances or they gain a better understanding of the role of credit, they know what steps to take to see real improvements in their financial lives. By letting people know that they can meet with an advisor or take a class on preparing for homeownership, we arm them with the tools they need to realize their vision.
We can impart a sense of urgency. Some people make a habit of kicking the can down the road. They say they will do better with their money at some later time. A recent study found that most consumers wouldn’t have enough savings to cover a $1,000 emergency if something unexpected occurred. We must show consumers what can happen if they don’t get their financial houses in order, and why they should prioritize financial education now rather than later.
We can give consumers a support system. It’s hard to do anything alone. Without a support system, people are more likely to give up when they have trouble reaching their goals. The nation’s homeownership advisory organizations are perfectly positioned to help consumers achieve their financial goals. We are rooted in the communities in which we serve. We know the problems consumers face every day. We speak their language, and we have their trust. By letting consumers know about the services they can receive from nonprofit organizations, we open them up to a support system many never knew they had.
Tomorrow’s homebuyers may need a little encouragement and guidance to ensure that 2018 is their year. When we lend a hand and make financial education a reality, we move closer to helping 100 percent of consumers reach their financial goals.