We covered stress’s effect on our overall health in our last blog post, but there’s a further point to be made about specific segments of American society who are affected most. A FINRA Foundation study revealed that despite the recovery from the financial crisis this last decade, particular populations continue to be worse off. These include women, African Americans, Hispanics, Millennials, and people lacking a high school education.
These segments also struggle with personal health. For example, women are less likely to see their doctor, pick up their prescriptions, or undergo medical procedures due to cost. Fortune also claimed more than 1 in 5 Americans, or 21%, are dealing with unpaid medical debt. Another study by financial wellness provider Financial Finesse found African Americans and Latinos scored considerably lower in financial wellness. Also alarming, only 26% of African Americans and 37% of Hispanics have emergency funds as compared to 55% of whites and 72% of Asian Americans. Financial education must be at the center of change. That change could come from a trusted source – their credit union or community bank where they maintain their checking, savings, and loan accounts. Banks and credit unions alike have the resources to create financial wellness initiatives personalized to these targeted segments by providing tools and resources such as financial coaches to walk their members and consumers through financial concepts in English and in Spanish.
Health and finance are inextricably linked. Evan LaVoie, wealth advisor at Blue Sail Wealth Design, coined the term “wealth care” on the belief that it’s just as important as health care. A 2016 Gallup poll found that 69% of Americans who “strongly” agreed they had enough money to do everything they wanted to do in their lives reported having healthy diets. That percentage dropped to 57% for those who “strongly” disagreed they had enough money. Healthy food is often more expensive than unhealthy choices. Unhealthy eating habits often lead to more physical stress. It’s a downward spiral that needs to be broken.
Once again, financial education alone in this “age of access” is simply not enough. Getting individuals and families the tools and resources they need when and where they need it will do much to increase financial wellness heading into the third decade of this 21st century.