MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The pandemic has taught us, many life lessons. For some, making better money moves, tops the list.
Memphis city leaders are reminding everyone that help is available to those who want to better understand their finances. The pandemic, for some was like feeling the ground beneath their feet shift.
Trying to cope during COVID, was downright difficult, especially concerning finances. Here’s the reason why, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, unemployment reached an all-time high last year with 15.8% jobless.
But things are turning around. The newest numbers show more here in the Volunteer State are back to work with unemployed being at 5%
But, trying to get back on good financial footing, is another hurdle. That’s where the city steps in.
“In about two years time, we have had 2,500 Memphians go through literacy training, financial literacy,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.
Strickland says learning financial skills is not only open to city employees, but everyone living in the Bluff City.
“It’s not only important for employees to learn it, but then it helps to make more people employers,” Strickland said.
With the I-Am-A-Man plaza as the backdrop, actor and writer Hill Harper also spoke about the importance of financial literacy.
“There’s extreme need in the city of Memphis.” Harper said.
Harper added without a better understanding of money management, Dr King’s dream, and those preceding the Civil Rights leader, remain deferred.
“You all have heard the saying ‘It’s expensive to be poor, it’s absolutely true,” Harper said.
Part of the problem, Harper points out, deals with what’s known as predatory lenders. Those willing to loan money, but oftentimes with 3-digit interest rates and unrealistic payoff terms.
It further creates a cycle of debt.
“We need to put check-cashing spots out of business. We need to put rent-to-own spots out of business. We are talking about 500 to 600 % interest. There is no way a community can build wealth if so much money is being ripped out of it, before you can even use it,” Harper said.
That’s where understanding money comes into play.
“We are just holding on to our cash, keep that mattress money,” Harper said.
Credit is power– so too is financial literacy.
If you are interested in the city’s financial literacy program: for kids, students, adults and seniors, click here.