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Personal Finance: Resources to Guide Newcomers on Measuring their Financial Well-being and Managing Money in the United States

People who are new to the United States may have many adjustments to make. Getting acquainted with the U.S. financial system can be one important component that supports successful integration. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has a wealth of information that resettlement staff can share with refugee, immigrant, and migrant communities, to help people know their rights, find answers to common questions, and build key skills. The CFPB also offers the Financial Well-Being Scale – a short, practical tool to help anyone measure their financial well-being and track it over time. 

Resources to share from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

People who are new to the United States may have many adjustments to make. Getting acquainted with the U.S. financial system can be one important component that supports successful integration. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has a wealth of information that resettlement staff can share with refugee, immigrant, and migrant communities, to help people know their rights, find answers to common questions, and build key skills. The CFPB also offers the Financial Well-Being Scale – a short, practical tool to help anyone measure their financial well-being and track it over time.

Resources to share from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

  • Helping people know the facts and know their rights. The CFPB’s robust website provides helpful tips, guides, worksheets, and answers to common questions about everyday money topics, from building credit and avoiding scams to making large purchases like a home or a car. You can share CFPB resources freely with your colleagues and clients. You can also download or order printed copies of publications in multiple languages.

  • Newcomer’s Guides to Managing Money. The CFPB has created a series of four checklists for newcomers that you can download and print in multiple languages. The guides cover opening bank or credit union accounts, selecting financial products and services, ways to pay bills, and ways to receive money. You can use them in one-on-one discussions and share them with the communities you serve.

  • Sending money transfers. Sending money overseas (sending remittances) is an important transaction for many newcomers. The CFPB’s brochure on Helping Consumers Understand Remittance Transfers is intended to help you be an informed resource for people who want to send money abroad, or for those who need help resolving a problem. You can share the CFPB’s Web page and handout Send Money Abroad With More Confidence, available in multiple languages, so that the newcomers you serve know what to expect.

  • Defining financial well-being. Each person’s situation is unique and subjective. Numbers like income, net worth, or credit score tell an incomplete story about the person’s financial well-being. The CFPB asked people around the country what financial well-being meant to them, and then listened. The result was a consumer-driven definition of financial well-being and 10 questions to measure it. The CFPB’s definition of financial well-being can be summarized as financial security and financial freedom of choice, in the present and in the future. More specifically, having financial well-being is when you:
    • Have control over day-to-day, month-to-month finances
    • Have the capacity to absorb a financial shock
    • Are on track to meet your financial goals
    • Have the financial freedom to make the choices that allow you to enjoy life
  • Measuring financial well-being. As someone who works directly with newcomers, you can measure financial well-being and track it over time, for an individual or for groups of people you serve. You can answer CFPB’s 10-question Financial Well-Being Scale without doing math or gathering account information. The questionnaire can be administered at the outset of a relationship, to spark conversations about money hopes and fears that can sometimes go unspoken. For example, you can use the questionnaire during a pre-employment analysis conversation, or when you discuss budgeting with a client. People can answer the questions on their own, or you can read the questions to them and enter their responses. Then, the questionnaire can be used as a periodic check-up to track a person’s progress over time – or your program’s.

 

Blog and e-mail updates. To stay alert to new and emerging topics, you can keep an eye on the CFPB’s blog, and you can sign up to receive e-mail messages. Below is a selection of blog posts on money topics that may be of interest to you and the newcomers you work with:

Identifying and addressing the financial needs of immigrants

Using mobile money apps

Using “buy now, pay later” payment options

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