Alan Romero and his twin brother have done well. Both highly educated, Romero is a financial planner and his brother is an engineer.
But he feels his family could’ve done better. They, as a family unit, could be further along in their journey toward financial stability and wealth building.
What kept them from realizing so many more dreams? The answer is financial education. In addition to not having the right friends and contacts – buddies on the golf course, white-collar jobs and mentors – Romero’s parents were hard-working people who did their best with what they had and they did do very well by their sons.
But no one ever explained financial products like traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, annuities, stocks, bonds, money market accounts, and mutual funds. They were not experts in the differences between fixed and variable, immediate and deferred IRAs, or how riders and taxes impact long-term savings.
Too many people are in the same situation. Many don’t know how compounded interest can create wealth. And when they do get to retirement age, do they really know how and when to collect Social Security?
Romero decided that had his parents known more about saving and investing, they would have greater family wealth today. This is why it is his mission, along with AARP Colorado, to get financial information to the people who need it. Those who need to make their money last, who need to find all the ways possible to build that nest egg, those with low incomes and disproportionally in communities of color, mainly among Latinos and African Americans, need this information.
AARP Colorado works with volunteers like Romero, bringing financial education to communities across the state.
The AARP program, Financial Resilience, has been hosting seminars throughout the metro Denver area, as well as Grand Junction, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, to name a few. The Financial Resilience program has attracted seven volunteers – all with backgrounds in financial planning, education and/or communications. Our team is made up of four Hispanics – two of whom are fluent in Spanish – two women and one Asian, who speaks Korean. It is important to reach out and find the people who need this information. We host a minimum of 12 seminars per year, with at least one in Spanish and one for women. We also used this time to spread our messages about Work and Save, a proposed state law that would allow workers of small business to create an automatic savings plan that would follow them from job to job, so the young and those with low incomes can take advantage of compounded interest overtime.
AARP Colorado is very proud of this team. While some of them do still work in the industry, they do a tremendous job of just being a volunteer and sharing their knowledge without expecting anything in return.
To help get the messages out, we have a cadre of materials in both English and Spanish to handout and a PowerPoint that was built by AARP programs, especially for Colorado.
Because we want to keep growing and become more, and more relevant, we are making some changes.
“We don’t add things that are the same, we add something different,” said volunteer Lillie Ben.
So we are in the process of re-doing our PowerPoint to be a more concise and meaningful reference guide. Instead of delivering our presentation and taking questions, we are asking questions upfront and molding the presentation to include some introductory questions. Instead of telling about the retirement, budgeting and Social Security calculators, we are going to show by doing demonstrations.
When people call in to register for our presentations, we want the call center to ask them three questions to help us tailor our presentations to their needs. We also are taking steps to get information to younger audiences.
In addition, we will produce short videos for social media that give snippets of information about actions that people can take immediately to make a difference in their financial situation.
All of these ideas come from our volunteers. AARP Colorado has been fortunate to bring onboard some great volunteers. We want to keep stretching to make this experience more meaningful and help people put some of our tips into immediate action.
For more information, please call Angela Cortez, AARP Colorado communications director at 303-764-5988.