Six strategies to promote financial security for families

Everyone manages money almost every day.  Often we wonder how to better manage our money when it seems there is never enough.  CareerBuilder surveyed 3,900 American workers and found that more than six-in-ten workers – 61 percent – live paycheck to paycheck.  Many families have no way to cover day-to-day expenses if their income drops or disappears.  Unemployment, medical crisis, or car repairs can put a family into debt – or deeper into debt if they already owe large sums.  Such families are “asset poor.”  Michael Sherraden, director of the Center for Social Development at Washington University and author of Assets and the Poor: A New American Welfare Policy, points out that assets affect us financially, socially and psychologically in a way that income alone does not.

Asset-building is beginning to gain traction as an anti-poverty strategy.  Assets for Independence (AFI), a federal grant program that enables nonprofits and government agencies to incorporate assets-based principles into their programming, recently launched the ASSET Initiative.  The ASSET Initiative hopes to expand the reach of the asset-building message and encourage more collaboration across government agencies who do anti-poverty work.  Another such initiative that is picking up steam locally is Oklahoma Assets, an organization whose mission is to advocate policies and programs that can help create a more inclusive economy – one in which financial success, economic stability, and opportunity is available, not just for some, but for all.

The assets approach to overcoming poverty empowers families to take control of their finances and plan for long term stability.  Asset-building helps families avoid or get out of debt, prepare for emergencies, and plan for college or home ownership.  To advance an understanding of the asset-building approach, we’ve highlighted six strategies for family financial security and resources to promote them:

  1. Financial Education:  Curricula for staff, parents and children is available on-line at no cost via
  2. Savings:  The path to financial security starts with savings.  The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has compiled a comprehensive multimedia toolkit called a ‘Beginners Guide to Securing Your Financial Future
  3. Getting banked: This site connects parents and staff to banks and credit unions –
  4. Managing credit and debt:  Visit for strategies to take control of debt and information about the importance of personal credit history.
  5. Tax credits and filing assistance:  The IRS sponsors free tax preparation services that help working families and individuals apply for tax credits and keep more money in their pockets.
  6. Accessing public benefits:  Public programs help families lessen crises due to job loss, illness, disability, or divorce.  They support working families with low earnings and reduce the severity of poverty by increasing disposable income.  Learn more about such programs at

To partner with the ASSET Initiative, educate yourself and others, or take on asset building strategies, visit or contact Wanda DeBruler at (405) 641-5090 or  To learn more about Oklahoma Assets, visit or email


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