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Finances 50+

Finances 50+ Workshops Help Spread Financial Smarts

Classes teach older adults to make tough choices and set achievable goals

Success stories from AARP Foundation Finances 50+ program workshops

After Stephen Guild facilitated the AARP Foundation Finances 50+ program, a series of financial capability workshops co-developed with the Charles Schwab Foundation, he experienced a profound loss – and he couldn’t be happier about it.

The three 90-minute sessions (which are currently available in 13 states and offered in English, Spanish and Chinese) inspired Stephen, 72, to invest in a personal trainer and a gym membership. The former university administrator subsequently dropped 10 pounds, lowered his cholesterol and reduced his “borderline diabetic” glucose levels.

Stephen Guild resolved to change his life after he answered a “big question” that he had also posed to participants of the workshop: When you think about your life, what is it that would make you feel more fulfilled?

Stephen’s top priority was improving his health. “I don’t think that people see [preventive health] as a financial decision,” he said recently from his home in Seattle.

To pay for the gym membership and personal trainer, Stephen skipped a reunion of fellow Peace Corps volunteers who had served with him in Sierra Leone in the 1960s. “I really wanted to go to that, but I couldn’t do both. I couldn’t pay for my health, the gym fee, and go to my reunion. I had to make a choice.”

Stephen credits the Finances 50+ workshops – akin to a free financial checkup – for prompting participants to focus on making difficult spending decisions and set achievable goals. “If you want to see your grandchildren in Maine three times per year, for instance, you are going to have to plan that out in some way,” he said, “and that may mean you don’t go to Bingo. Some people, they’ve never thought that way.”

Next page: James's struggle with credit card debt. »

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