By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium
Financial literacy, responsibility and even success is not a simple nor easy endeavor. It demands discipline, study, humility (the ability to ask for help) and more important patience. Given the current state of affairs in the world today, the task of saving and growing your money can be a bit daunting, but it’s within reach to almost every consumer in the market.
“Managing your money can be complicated,which is why breaking down your finances into smaller buckets can help you get ahead with your short- and long-term goals,” says Beth Dotson, a member of the Chase Market Leadership team in Portland. “A lot of times when it comes to financial literacy there is so much to learn and so many different avenues to take, that it can seem overwhelming.”
The Seattle Medium recently sat down with Dotson to discuss the importance of financial health and wellness.
Because the new year is so often associated with healthy habits, Chase is reminding its customers to prioritize financial health by offering tips for securing a financial future they can feel good about.
According to Dotson, the joy of financial literacy comes from the success in getting accustomed with applying what you’ve learned throughout your journey in the right way. There is a pathway to success, but it is a matter of charting a course where you can start with very little or nothing and create something that builds and/or generates wealth. The key is having the resources, tools and/or guidance to know what that path may look like.
“There are people in banking that can help direct us in the right way,” says Dotson. “We have to get comfortable going to those individuals, it doesn’t matter if it is a big or small bank. But those individuals are trained to be experts in their craft, and they can help with different avenues towards success. They want to make sure that they point you in the right direction.”
When it comes to advising her clients, Dotson draws from her own experiences. She was on her own at a young age, had to learn financial responsibility very fast in order to survive and today. carries that experience in her passion to help others.
“I was the youngest of 12 siblings,” says Dotson. “Being on my own at the age of 15, I discovered my purpose through failure and triumph. My determination was born out of my experiences, and I used my education to teach and lead by example, the values and principles I learned to build financial stability for myself and my family.”
According to Dotson, solid financial health can provide families with the foundation they need to build resilient and strong households, communities and economies. She acknowledges that undertaking and managing financial literacy and finances continues to be challenging for many people, even for those who make a decent living.
“This [financial stability] is possible,” says Dotson. “I think this is key, there are habits people are going to develop that enable them to change. Sometimes you don’t realize the money you spend daily. But when you start tracking your spending and begin to see where your money is going, it’s a way to help you start to create better habits allowing you to save more and turn your savings into better investments.”
One of the first steps to establishing financial health is to grow your savings and have money set aside in an emergency fund for all of life’s unexpected surprises. This can help create a peace of mind by knowing you have yourself covered.
According to Chase, when it comes to saving, you should consider setting and maintaining a budget to help you feel more in control and to spend less than you earn. Chase has an online budget planner tool that enables their customers to set budgets, track their spending and adjust it day-to-day. With Chase’s Autosave tool, families can choose when and how often they want to transfer money from their checking account to their savings account – starting with as little as $1 per day.
Another vital element of financial health is building your credit and credit score by paying your bills on time all the time. With the Chase Credit Journey tool, users can easily understand and monitor their credit score with actionable insights around building credit health. For a more personal planning process, Chase recommends working with an advisor who understands everything from your big goals to the small details.
“As it relates to credit, it’s very important to take personal responsibility for your credit,” says Dotson. “When we think about the three different credit bureaus –Experian, Equifax and Transunion — usually they will show different credit scores. Check your credit report regularly [to make sure your] information is correct.”
To wrap up our conversation, we asked Dotson how consumers can protect themselves from financial scams?
As has been reported in the news over the last two years, there has been an increase in scams targeted towards everyday people related to their stimulus checks, unemployment benefits, fake treatments for COVID-19 and more. It’s crucial to recognize activity designed to steal your money. Here are some best practices to protect yourself from scammers:
• Educate yourself on the most common scams. Fraudsters will use anything to their advantage — claiming to be from the IRS, pretending to offer tech support, baiting you with prizes or cash winnings — the sky’s the limit!
• Monitor credit score for free with Chase Credit Journey — you don’t even need to be a Chase customer to sign up! It will notify you if your data is compromised. Plus, you’ll receive critical alerts that help protect your credit and identity.
• Review your accounts closely if you believe you may have fallen for a scam. With Chase, you can also set up account alerts so you can be notified of transactions on your account.
• Click on suspicious links on emailsor texts unless you’re sure it’s from a credible source. Only access your accounts through the bank’s mobile app or their website.
• Share personal information. Neither Chase nor any other bank will ever ask for your username, password, ATM pin, etc. when reaching out to you. Banks may ask for this information only when you call to discuss your account.
• Transfer money to someoneclaiming to be from your bank. Banks will never ask to send money via wire, check or other method to “stop or prevent fraud.”
• Pay someone using gift cards, especially when they claim to need them to remove a virus from your computer, stop fraud on your account or to buy plane tickets to come visit you.
If you believe that you may have been a victim of fraud or scams, there’s no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. It can happen to anyone. What’s most important is to take immediate action.
First, contact your bank, credit card issuer or local law enforcement to report the fraud or scam; they’ll be able to tell you the best way to proceed. If you have any questions, visit us at your nearest Chase branch. We are always happy to answer questions from our customers.
To learn more about common scams and how to stop scammers in their tracks visit: www.chase.com/security-tips. You can also learn tips to identify and avoid financial abuse by visiting: www.chase.com/financialabuse.
Sponsored content from JPMorgan Chase & Co.