Financial Literacy Spotlight: Savings

When working entry-level jobs it can be difficult to contribute to a savings account. However, it is imperative for everyone to build up a savings safety net and therefore crucial for employment specialists to reiterate the importance of savings as a part of financial literacy training. Below are some resources to help you teach and encourage refugees to save:

“Savings” is money that is set aside for a specific purpose such as buying a home or emergency income. Cash left over in a checking account after paying bills does not necessarily count as “savings,” especially if the money is going to be used later in the same pay period. Similarly, if a client “saved” $5 at the grocery store, they have not necessarily increased their savings, but rather refrained from spending what was planned. Saving is not the absence of spending; saving is the intentional act of setting money aside for a specific goal or purpose. Many financial institutions have developed initiatives that include a curriculum covering the basics of money management with specific lessons on saving.  Here is a link to some of our favorites.

As a part of financial literacy training, encourage clients to open a savings account the same time they open their checking account.  When building a budget with a client, it is crucial to build in a line for savings, but how much should a client save each paycheck or month? The National Endowment for Education has developed several useful web-based tools, including Savings for Emergencies and Smart About Money. As clients enter employment, encourage them to put the appropriate amount of income into savings.

Incorporating savings into financial literacy and job readiness courses assists refugees with their long-term self-sufficiency and independence. Whether to buy a car or a house, or just for an unplanned emergency, learning how to save is crucial to success.

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Webinar Alert: Financial Literacy Training Resources

Financial Literacy training is a required resettlement service. On Thursday, June 21st, CORE, the Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange, is providing a 30-minute Money Management webinar on how to engage refugees around key messages on budgeting, financing, and self-sufficiency. The session will draw on CORE’s new resources on Money Management, including a supplemental lesson plan, and also feature additional resources as well as an opportunity to engage with peers on the subject.

To accommodate a range of time zones, the webinar is being offered at 8:00 AM EDT and 1:00 PM EDT on June 21. Note that each webinar will feature the same content.

To select your preferred session time and register, click here.

Other financial literacy resources, such as courses like Understanding Your Paycheck, can be found on Higher’s Online Learning Institute.

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National Financial Literacy Month 2018

April is National Financial Literacy Month and a reminder to all of us of just how important financial literacy is in the United States. Teaching financial literacy to every newly arriving refugee family member is a crucial part of resettlement process.

Financial literacy should cover, at minimum, physical money, checks, debit and credit cards, loans (including the travel loan, if appropriate), how to open and operate bank accounts, how to read a paycheck, taxes, and personal budgeting.

In order to give your clients a 360 degree education of the US financial system, Higher recommends partnering with a local financial institution or nonprofit organization to help educate your clients with an in-depth look at financial literacy. Another recommendation is that financial literacy should be taught as a separate breakout session in job readiness classes.

For more resources on teaching financial literacy:

What are you doing to teach financial literacy to clients? Share with us at!

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ORR Webinar on Financial Literacy for Refugees

financial literacyThere’s a lot to learn about managing money once we help our clients start to earn it in their first job.

On February 24, 2015 at 2:00 pm Eastern, ORR will host the webinar “Enhancing Self-Sufficiency with Financial Empowerment: Using CFPB’s Your Money, Your Goals with Refugees.”

Click here to register and see a sample training session and other ways you can use a new financial literacy toolkit from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in your work.

Check out 5 Ways to Help Refugees Build a Good Credit History for more ideas you can use now.


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