With a few adjustments in our own personal financial habits, we can all renew a sense of thrift at the individual level, but a nationwide culture shift that reestablishes thrift as a core value can only be achieved in the context of a broad-based, well-sponsored, and government-backed social movement.
The Commission on Thrift, in conjunction with the Institute for American Values, recently released a report entitled "For a New Thrift: Confronting the Debt Culture" wherein they offer several thought-provoking policy recommendations that go hand-in-hand with our efforts to revive National Thrift Week. Below, you'll find a sampling of some of their challenges to our nation's leaders:
Reestablish an On-Going, Year-Round Public Education Campaign
Reviving National Thrift Week for seven days out of the year would be great, but it in order to have a deeper impact on our society, an ongoing education campaign—similar to those that warn us against smoking or drunk driving—is necessary.
Create a Thrift Savings Plan Available to All Americans
Create programs that provide any willing citizen the educational support and facilitation services necessary to use the stock market and build wealth through investing. The federal government already provides such services tofederal employees and members of the military.
Support Credit Union Expansion and Innovation
Small-scale economic cooperatives, through which members build and pool their savings and offer one another access to affordable credit, are the precise foundations on which a social movement to build wealth among people of modest means can best be built.
Expand Community Development Finance Institutions
Community Development Finance Institutions (C.D.F.I.s) provide lower-income communities with capital and constructive financial services. Most operate as not-for-profits. U.S. Congress should consider, perhaps as an expansion of the CDFI Fund, inviting proposals for, and supporting financially, up to 100 pilot projects across the country aimed at innovation and effectiveness in meeting the currently unmet savings and credit needs of millions of Americans.
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