Achieve Key Financial Milestones
Financial stability is one of the keys to a steady, successful life. Along with education and health, it’s one of the building blocks of opportunity. But for far too many North Texans, financial stability is a significant challenge. Consider these statistics:
These and other obstacles keep many North Texans from achieving financial security, which can also impact their educational opportunities and health.
April is National Financial Capability Month—an important opportunity for individuals to take action to improve their financial futures. If you are one of the many North Texans who is working toward greater financial security, rest assured: It is an achievable goal that will not only benefit you but also have an impact on your family and their future. And United Way of Metropolitan Dallas can be a valuable resource as you start out on that journey.
5 Steps to Improve Your Financial Security
At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we create, lead and invest in programs that enable North Texans to get and keep better jobs, build savings and hold on to more of what they earn. Our financial stability programs are designed to support individuals and families with free education, resources and guidance.
Here, we count down five straightforward steps to take during National Financial Capability Month that can improve your financial position:
If you don’t have a bank account, you’re not alone: The FDIC reports that 7.1 million U.S.
households lack a relationship with a bank. By signing up for a bank account that meets your needs, you’ll enjoy several benefits:
- You’ll know your money is safe and FDIC insured up to $250,000.
- You’ll avoid check-cashing fees.
- You can use ATMs to withdraw cash.
- You can shop online and pay bills from anywhere.
- You can keep an eye on how much money you have.
- Finally, if you qualify for a tax refund, you’ll receive your money electronically, which is faster and more secure than waiting for a check from the IRS.
These days, it’s easy to find a bank account that offers low or no fees, no overdraft charges, no minimum deposits and other important benefits. Our Financial Resources page has a list of trusted banks that offer affordable, easy-to-use checking and savings accounts. Or, visit the FDIC’s website at fdic.gov/GetBanked to learn more about the benefits of getting banked and to view a helpful checklist that will guide you to the best bank account for your individual needs. (All resources on this page are also in Spanish.)
2. Break Free From Predatory Loans
Predatory loans trap many North Texans in a cycle of debt, where borrowers can end up owing a
payday or auto loan business more than the original loan amount. That’s why it’s important to know about alternatives to predatory loans that allow you to borrow money through organizations that are affordable and fair.
At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we partner with several trusted organizations that offer low-cost loans, allowing borrowers like you to quickly access funds and build credit. For example, our partner Society of St. Vincent de Paul offers Predatory Conversion Loans that are designed to pay off payday and auto title lenders by allowing you to convert to a low-interest, one-year loan of up to $4,000 at 3% interest. Capital Good Fund offers another option, the Credit Builder Loan, that enables you to improve your credit score over 12 months.
For more information and to apply for a loan through one of our partner organizations, visit our Financial Resources page.
3. Take Advantage of Free Financial Education Resources
Financial matters can be complicated, which is why it’s so empowering to learn more about things like personal finance, buying a home and saving for retirement. Consider signing up for a financial education class; you might be surprised how helpful the information is for your own financial situation.
These organizations offer a variety of free financial education classes and resources:
- Building Wealth (Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas): An overview of wealth-building strategies for consumers, as well as community leaders, students and teachers
- First United Bank: Financial education materials and resources, including a “Get Out of Debt Coach” and an online budget calculator
- Jump Start Coalition: Financial education resources for students and teachers
- Money Smart (FDIC): Engaging games, podcasts and parent resources that help people of all ages enhance their financial skills and create positive banking relationships
- Ready, Set, Bank.: (Hosted by Capital One) Video guides and step-by-step tutorials that make online banking easy. Also available in Spanish
4. Get Free Financial Guidance
While a little financial education is beneficial, learning everything about financial matters would be a full-time job. That’s why a variety of organizations offer free financial guidance with qualified financial coaches who can help you set and meet your financial goals.
To get started, contact one of our partner agencies.
- Catholic Charities Dallas: Financial coaching and education, HUD counseling and more
- Metrocrest Services: Teaches individuals how to pay off debt, increase savings, improve credit and achieve personal financial goals
- The Senior Source: Financial assistance and education, help with frauds and scam, and more
- WiNGS Dallas: Financial education, individualized financial coaching, credit-building, benefit screening and more.
5. If You Have Children, Open a College Savings Account
A little financial planning can go a long way toward your children’s future. College savings accounts are especially important: With at least $500 saved, your child is three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate. And that has a huge ripple effect throughout their life, putting them on a path to a good-paying job, career advancement and financial security.
United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and our partners offer a simple way to save for your child to go to college through Dollars for College, which is currently open to students in Lancaster and Richardson Independent School Districts. The program offers an easy and affordable way to open a my529 children’s savings account for college.
- You can open a Dollars for College account online at any time.
- The account is free: no minimum deposits or balance, and no enrollment fees.
- There are no age, income or residency restrictions, and you can choose from a range of investment options.
- If your child attends Lancaster or Richardson ISD, the district will make an opening deposit of $50 in your child’s account.
Click below to sign up for a Dollars for College account today:
- My child attends school in Lancaster ISD: Sign up
- My child attends school in Richardson ISD: Sign up
If your child attends a different school district, you can sign up directly for a my529 plan at texascollegesavings.com/enroll. Please note: A regular my529 plan may have different enrollment and deposit requirements.
Get more information here.
Take Control of Your Financial Future
Factors like how much you get paid, whether you’re able to save money and your level of debt can have a huge impact on your quality of life, your health, your family and more. Although financial topics can be daunting, community resources like these can put you and your family in a much better position for a lifetime of financial security.