Released today, the Nationwide Insurance and Tavis Smiley Consumer Survey identified disturbing trends behind what blacks believe and how they react to financial planning and economic empowerment.
“What we ultimately find is that there is a disconnect between what people are thinking, what they believe, and what they are doing,” Smiley says.
According to the survey of 1,200 participants (600 black and 600 from the general population), blacks aren’t dealing realistically with their financial hardships. On one hand the survey found that 58% of blacks are optimistic that their financial situation will be better a year from now, but fewer than one in four have a written financial plan, nearly one in three don’t know where to start building a plan, and fewer than half are proactive about planning their financial future.
Smiley, host of a self-titled PBS talk show and public radio show, in a partnership with Nationwide, has been traveling to black communities throughout the country over the past year giving speeches about financial literacy. The evolution of that journey was the inspiration for the survey.
“The survey by itself can’t change the world, but we believe that the activities that we are engaged in with Tavis, as well as other activities, can help change the world,” said Paul Ballew, senior vice president of customer insights and analytics for Nationwide Insurance. Ballew suggests that teaching financial literacy to children at a young age is one way to change courses to help the community as a whole understand the importance of saving and investing.
The study found that compared with the general population (39%), African Americans (45%) admitted more frequently to taking some type of action to avoid conversations about finances, including screening calls, lying, cutting off a relationship, and skipping meals.
“That is the ostrich syndrome — putting your head in the sand. We are not going to survive these difficult economic times if we are not going to be realistic and if we try to ignore these harsh realities,” Smiley says. “People are absolutely worried about being able to afford college for their kids. But only one in 20 has a college savings plan. Only 3% say that education is their most important financial goal.”
Smiley also recently released Accountable: Making America As Good As Its Promise, the third part of The Covenant series, which includes two critically acclaimed books, The Covenant with Black America, and The Covenant in Action.
Accountable issues a call to action to elected officials, community leaders, corporations and American citizens.
On Feb. 28, Smiley will convene his 10th annual State of the Black Union (SOBU) Conference in Los Angeles, which will also be aired nationally at 8 a.m. on C-SPAN. The SOBU is a one-day symposium that will feature panels moderated by Smiley and comprised of prominent political, educational, business, grassroots, and entertainment leaders. The free event will articulate the African American agenda for President Barack Obama and target what blacks