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Thought Leader Financial Inclusion

Compassion for Those Working Paycheck to Paycheck in America

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I keep saying that 70% of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, and 64% of Americans (not poor people) don’t have $500 in times of an unplanned financial event in their lives, but few things made these stats and facts more real and immediate than the government shutdown. About 800,000 federal government employees — many of them living right here in greater Atlanta — have been back to work for about a week now, but still undoubtedly dealing with the effects of a 35-day partial government shutdown. The longest in American history. Their paychecks… withheld. Their livelihoods… uncertain. It’s stressful, and it impacts every part of their lives.

With the shutdown temporarily lifted, these workers must essentially pick up the pieces of their lives. For the majority, debt has increased, savings have decreased, and making matters worse, their FICO credit scores have been negatively impacted. Yes, they will get back pay, but this hurts. And making a bad situation feel even worse, federal contractors will not get paid for time lost. No back pay for them.

This said, the larger truth remains–the majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and are vulnerable to a financial emergency–with most, almost 80 percent, unable to afford a $500 emergency car repair or hospital visit. Whether white, black, red, brown or yellow — each and every one of us want to see some more green (as in U.S. currency).

The events over the last several weeks underscores the vital importance of the work of Operation HOPE, HOPE Coalition America and our growing HOPE Inside Network, headquartered here in Atlanta, and now operational in 24 states and countless cities and communities. Our mission is to provide financial dignity empowerment and help people feel confident and secure in their financial futures… before, during, and after a financial emergency situation.

That’s why in the midst of the shutdown, HOPE teamed up with our partner SunTrust to offer direct financial coaching support to TSA employees at the Atlanta and Orlando airports.

So where do we go from here?

As the White House and lawmakers spend the next few weeks working to formulate a deal in Washington, we will continue to stand with federal employees to manage the financial recovery process. Operation HOPE offers credit and money management coaching through a nationwide network of 130+ HOPE Inside locations.  We are the HOPE Financial Coach and the private banker to the working class and middle class that did not exist before our founding. And 100% of our services are free to the public, thanks to the ongoing support of our partners. We are ’the Starbucks of financial inclusion,’and we are here for each and every citizen of our home city of Atlanta.

Individuals and families impacted by the shutdown can visit a HOPE Inside location or call 888-388-HOPE (4673). Find the location nearest you here: http://operationhope.org/map/.

HOPE financial wellbeing coaches provide the following (and other) services at no cost to participants:

  • Support developing an emergency budget
  • Assistance working with mortgage companies to delay or reduce mortgage payments
  • Restructuring a range of credit and financing agreements.
  • Referrals to our strategic alliance partners to help access loans and emergency funding
  • Assistance speaking with creditors on delaying/reducing monthly payments

Through our HOPE Inside Disaster model, we provide pre-disaster preparedness planning, including the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) and Personal Disaster Preparedness Guide (PDPG). The shutdown has served as an eye opener for many of the importance to plan financially for the unexpected.  Take some time to evaluate your financial situation using these simple HOPE resources.

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