African Americans optimistic about future finances, but need help to plan ahead

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Here are 3 ways middle-income families can work toward a more secure financial future

Staff Writer for Primerica

March 9, 2020

Sergeant Major Helen Davis admits she hasn’t always been good about saving for the future. In her 20s and 30s, she sometimes spent too much on eating out and seeing music shows. That led to credit card debt that she and her husband had trouble paying off.

“It’s only in the past seven or eight years that I’ve really had the savings habit,” said Davis, a senior human resources specialist for the Army National Guard in Columbia, South Carolina.

Her daughters, on the other hand, at ages 28, 27 and 20, already have a better handle on how to work toward a secure financial future, she said. Access to their family’s financial professional made all the difference.

For example, oldest daughter Alanti, a rural public health coordinator, puts $100 in her IRA every month — something Davis never did at that age.

Middle-income African Americans like the Davis family are among the most optimistic Americans when it comes to their financial futures. But many have financial concerns today; they’re worried about making their monthly payments and want to learn how to build good credit and manage debt, according to the 2019 Primerica Financial Security Monitor.

  • 70% expect their financial security to improve over the next five years.
  •  Half have not invested any personal savings.
  • About one-quarter (24%) don’t know how much credit card debt they have.
  • Only about one-quarter (26%) feel “up to the challenge” of saving money for the future (compared to 16% of the general population).

With more African Americans graduating from high school and college than in previous decades, many have a good reason for a positive outlook, said Ivan Earle, senior national sales director for Primerica, who works with the Davis family.

“Many African Americans are optimistic that they’re going to have a better life than the generation before them,” said Earle. “But many of them are not getting the advice and guidance needed to set their families on a plan to achieve their financial goals.”

The Financial Security Monitor found that many middle-income African American families like the Davises want advice, and they want to work with a financial professional. Here is the guidance Earle shares with anyone who asks about how to achieve their financial goals:

1. Invest during good times and bad

Earle’s client Mary Ann Glenn of Columbia, South Carolina, worked hard to get where she is today. Over the course of her career and while raising two sons on her own, she worked in retail, as a houseworker, and as a private home healthcare worker before spending 40 years overseeing the medical record department at an oncology practice.

“I learned to invest, even when times were tough, to pay things off early, and not to use too many credit cards,” she said.

Glenn’s financial education and planning give her and her husband peace of mind, and like the Davises, they’ve passed that lesson on to the next generation.

“My son was in the military 20 years and retired, and now he’s applying what we learned and investing as much as he can of what he makes,” she said.

2. Have a financial strategy

The Primerica Financial Security Monitor found that the idea of saving money for the future makes more African American respondents feel “prepared” (27%) rather than “overwhelmed” (14%).

Having a plan, Earle said, is the first important step in becoming financially secure.

“If you tell me your goal, I’ll work with you to create a game plan that can help you accomplish that financial goal,” Earle said. Primerica helps people get started saving wherever they are in life. And even investing as little as $25 a month, Earle said, can help a family save for college, a car, a home, retirement — or whatever their goals may be.

Earle doesn’t only focus on saving, however. He also tells families to make sure they have a plan for protecting their finances should anything happen to the breadwinner. Through term life insurance, Earle helps families get the protection they need.

3. Find a trusted financial professional

Six in 10 African Americans surveyed for the Primerica Financial Security Monitor said they trust information from financial professionals over any other source on issues like reducing debt, purchasing insurance, saving money or investing.

Retired staff development professional Sandra Farray of Columbia, South Carolina, has known Earle for years through their church.

When Farray’s husband, Warren, passed away, she trusted Earle to help her make a plan for her financial future. “It’s good to have a licensed professional in your corner, someone who can help you take steps to reach your financial goals,” she said.

Visit primerica.com to find out how you can reach your financial goals.

Disclosure: In the U.S. (except in New York), term life insurance products are underwritten by Primerica Life Insurance Company, Executive Offices: Duluth, Georgia. In New York, term life insurance products are underwritten by National Benefit Life Insurance Company, Home Office: Long Island City, New York. In the U.S., Primerica offers securities and advisory services through PFS Investments Inc., 1 Primerica Parkway, Duluth, Georgia 30099-0001, member FINRA.

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.

SOURCE: https://www.usatoday.com/

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