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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

Linda Adams, 64, of Seattle also found recording expenses a revelation. “I haven’t done that since I was first married,” she said. Linda recently sold the outerwear distribution company she ran with her husband for 27 years; the transition has been a shock. “There are new challenges that you need to deal with,” she said, “like how do you get Internet and cellphone charges in line with your budget? When we were working, the company paid for that, but now it is a personal [expense].”

Linda equated her retirement to “grieving” and mourns the sudden loss of workplace relationships formed over 27 years: “We are not really well socially networked.. . . We are not avid churchgoers and we aren’t members of any clubs or anything.” Fortunately, she found camaraderie and community through the workshops. For instance, she received tips from other students about local stores that offer discounts to older customers on certain days of the week. “Isolation can generate fear or uncertainty,” she said. “Being with others going through the same process was hugely comforting, and helped me.”

Sylvia Haro, 53, described herself as “clueless” about her finances before she attended AARP Foundation Finances 50+ at the San Gabriel Valley YWCA in Covina, California. Sylvia, a preschool teacher, had relied on her ex-husband to handle her finances. “I always felt that I was an independent woman, but this was an era where men were decision makers,” she said.

“When you are young you think you can do it all,” she continued. “You realize that you’ve got the knowledge and tools to keep a house, a career, a car, but you didn’t think about getting the right knowledge to really look after yourself.”

The workshops provided Sylvia with an overview of her finances and a glossary of financial terms. “What I felt I got out of the whole thing is that you have to sit down and make the plan you need to make sure that everything is not going to end up all up in the air.” Though she is currently unemployed, Sylvia believes the course will enable her to pursue her goals once she resumes working.

Financial capability programs, such as AARP Foundation Finances 50+, can speed the country’s economic recovery, Sylvia argues. If we “give the older generation back their independence financially, then I do believe our economy will go up, because we have experience behind the wheel. And if you have experience behind the wheel, you know what you need to do to get out of the jam.”

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