By Charlene Hunter James
A just-released AARP study shows many Texas ages 40 to 64 are on a path of financial uncertainty. In fact, more than half say they don't have enough money or they have just enough for everyday expenses. Four in ten Texans say they have recently experienced difficulty making ends meet.
When it comes to savings, the results aren't good either. One in four of the Texans polled indicated they have less than $5,000 in savings. Costly health needs, children’s education and incurred debt are three reasons Texans may not be saving money. Many of those polled said they do not have access to retirement and savings tools in the workplace.
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While these statistics may shock some, they do not shock me. Growing up, I always knew the importance and the value of saving. I worked during my teenage years and later in life to ensure I had some savings. My grandparents instilled the importance of having a rainy-day fund. Whether I brought home $1 or $100, it was important to save money today for tomorrow.
It is wise for everyone to have savings, but it's especially important for women. You see, today’s women live longer than our mothers. Our average life expectancy is 81 years.
Women need to remember that, in order to plan, they need to avail themselves to resources available to them in the community. There are a lot of workshops and programs that help women become more financially literate, and I think it is important they take advantage of this. AARP offers programs that educate women, well, everyone on how to become financially sound. Credit bureaus have these programs too, churches, human resources, they are everywhere.
I don't know if things will get better or worse in terms of financial security. All we can do is start the conversation, ask the questions, and begin developing our plan of what is it we want to do, what we want to achieve. We don't have a crystal ball. We don't know what the market will look like or what circumstances will come about. But we can still start to develop a plan.
Charlene Hunter James is a member of AARP Texas’s all-volunteer executive council. She also volunteers with The Links and Texas Children’s Hospital. Charlene has a master’s degree in public health from the University of Texas. She worked for the Houston health department for much of her career, eventually becoming the director of the local Area Agency on Aging.