Financial Literacy Month: Financial education alone is not enough


Louisville, KY—April 18, 2018—April is National Financial Literacy Month. As its name suggests, the goal of National Financial Literacy Month is to “highlight the importance of financial literacy and teach Americans how to establish and maintain health financial habits.” Yet, Americans’ woeful financial condition continues, with a reported $2 trillion of consumer debt and 78% living paycheck to paycheck.

“The state of Americans personal finances is a deeply stressful situation for individuals, families, employers, and communities nationwide. To address this condition, well-meaning purveyors of financial services take the opportunity of National Financial Literacy Month to remind us of how insufficiently educated we are about our personal finances. I wish changing the current devastating status quo was that simple,” stated Carla Dearing, CEO of Sum180, an online financial wellness service.

“Unfortunately, financial literacy alone will not solve the problem. To attain financial independence and security, Americans need tools and support they can actually use,” Carla continued.

Carla offers the following seven principles necessary to creating financial wellness solutions that empower people to make a substantive difference in their lives:

  1. Education alone is not enough. ‘Education’ and financial literacy alone simply do not inspire or empower behavioral change. Reducing financial stress is doable, but we need to be willing to take a different approach.
  2. Personalization is key. People will engage with a solution when it feels like it’s about them and their situation specifically. Instead of making an education program the focus, tailor financial advice to the personal needs of the individual. Bring general principles home by addressing employees’ specific circumstances.
  3. Privacy matters. Money is a sensitive and emotional subject that is difficult to discuss—especially in a group setting. The right solution respects the need for privacy and empowers participants to explore financial questions without fear of judgment.
  4. Take a comprehensive approach. Only a solution that looks at an individual’s full financial picture ensures that person’s most important issues are identified and addressed.
  5. Apply behavior change theory to financial wellness. There is a big difference between knowing what to do, understanding how to get it done, and then actually doing it. That’s why when it comes to complex, emotionally-driven issues such as money, teaching ‘financial literacy’ is not enough. We also need to draw on established principles of behavior change science such as social cognitive theory, positive psychology, stages of change, and gamification.
  6. Use technology to lower barriers to action and change. We can now design solutions that meet individuals where they are and offer them the actionable advice they need, in the moment they need it. Aim to create solutions that are mobile, right-sized, and self-paced.
  7. Don’t neglect the human connection. As technology transforms the financial services landscape by expanding our ability to provide on-point personalized advice—more consistently while also adhering to best practices—nothing changes the powerful influence of a human adviser who can create a relationship, connection, and trust to empower behavioral change.

“The time has come to move past literacy and financial education. Let’s make 2018 the year we provide financial wellness solutions that empower fundamental and lasting change for all,” Carla concluded.

About Sum180
Sum180 is a mobile financial wellness service that identifies users’ most relevant Next Steps to strengthen their financial picture—and makes those steps easy to accomplish.

Sum180 goes beyond traditional financial wellness services:

  • Sum180 is immediately engaging. Gamified mobile setup, tips, and easy budgeting offer instant insights and fun interactivity.
  • Sum180 offers highly personalized Next Steps—and the support to get them done. Personalized, right-sized Next Steps, how-to information, mobile tracking, and notifications for accountability empower action.
  • Sum180 provides coaching from financial advisers plus peer support. When users are ready to dig deeper into their financial picture, they have access to coaching from advisers and an online community of users, unfiltered, that allows them to explore and share.
  • Sum180 is independent and unbiased. Sum180 makes money from subscription and account fees, never from commissions on advice given.

Additional information about Sum180 may be found at

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Robin Schoen
Robin Schoen Public Relations