I felt horrible for the federal employees and their families who experienced severe financial challenges as a result of going without pay for a month. How stressful to be concerned about trying to cover basic needs and not knowing how long it would be until the next paycheck would arrive. I have tremendous empathy for these families. As a financial advisor, my biggest professional takeaway is the need for an increased focus on financial education and wellness in our country.
I grew up fortunate to have been taught the value and importance of saving money for a rainy day and for building long-term financial security. My father repeatedly preached the value of saving money for as long as I can remember. Far back in my early 20s, when my wife and I combined to make very little money, we made sure the bank continued to grow for the “what if” scenario and that retirement was funded for long-term security. I have built a career out of advising people on their finances and investments, and I believe the national experience of the last six weeks screams for a need to prioritize financial health in the U.S.
How do we do this? I believe financial wellness should become a standard employee benefit with employers receiving a tax credit incentive to help with funding this employee benefit. Public and private schools need to have basic financial education for students starting in preschool. Finally, there needs to be public service announcements educating the public on financial wellness.
A financially well person is a better employee and in general a more productive member of society. The government shutdown should be a tipping point for a national conversation and action on financial wellness.