By NICOLE EOVINO
Your Voice Contributor
For a majority of people, a task like cashing a paycheck or making a rent or utility payment is simple, quick and easy. But for someone without a checking account, turning a paycheck into cash or sending that cash in a money order to a landlord might involve visiting a corner store, an alternative financial services storefront or the customer service desk at the grocery. It most likely will involve paying a fee â€“ sometimes a flat rate, sometimes a percentage of the paycheckâ€™s face value. And it will certainly not involve building or improving his credit score or providing them with any kind of opportunity to build long-term assets and financial stability.
An analysis of FDIC data by JoinBankOn.org reveals that approximately 10 percent of households in the Louisville area are unbanked. Thatâ€™s 24,000 households with no relationship to a mainstream financial institution that depend instead on alternative financial services, paying fees to access their own money. Every person who is unbanked has a unique reason for their situation. Some have mishandled accounts in the past, some have been victims of fraud and some have opted not to use an account because it is not easy or convenient for them.
When a Louisvillian doesnâ€™t have access to the financial mainstream, his personal stability and the stability of his family are affected. The Brookings Institution estimates that an unbanked household will spend around $40,000 over a working lifetime on fees related to check cashing, money orders and other alternative services. Lacking a safe, secure place to keep money also means missing out on opportunities to develop a positive relationship and history with a bank or credit union, critical factors in accessing tools like home and personal loans that build generational wealth. When more Louisville residents have positive relationships with financial institutions, it is advantageous for the overall economic well-being of our community.
Bank On Louisville fills this gap. Since 2010, Bank On Louisville has worked to bring about an economically vibrant community where everyone has the chance to become financially empowered by accessing mainstream financial services. Bank On Louisville:
â€¢ Â Is an engine to collaboratively strengthen our community’s economic well-being through improved access to mainstream financial education and services, with an emphasis on the low-to-moderate income population.
â€¢ Â Focuses on providing access to financial products and services that meet the needs of the unbanked, and providing financial education that prepares people to enter, or re-enter, banking with tools and knowledge for success.
â€¢Â Is led by the Louisville Metro Department of Community Services and Revitalization, Financial Empowerment/economic Development (FEeD) division and supported by 19 local banks and credit unions and over 100 community-based organizations.
â€¢Â Increases access to opportunities for financial empowerment through monthly Start Fresh! workshops for people who want to gain new information and tools to use second-chance or new checking accounts.
â€¢Â Supports financial education in the community and partners with financial institutions to provide learning opportunities when and where they are needed: to the clients of non-profit organizations as they seek services, to company employees at their work sites and more.
This year, Bank On Louisville is exploring new and exciting ways to reach out to those who want to establish or improve their finances and their relationship with their bank or credit union. The wonderful staff of V-Soft Consulting have generously donated their time and talents to designing an app for Bank On Louisville that will make connecting with financial education and services easier and faster. Bank On Louisville will also present Financial Fitness Day on Thursday, March 27 at the Catholic Enrichment Center. This community learning and resource fair is free and open to everyone, and will feature services, seminars and one-on-one advice from community partners including Financial Planners Association of Kentuckiana, Apprisen, ARGI Financial Group, the Louisville Urban League Center for Housing and Financial Empowerment, Legal Aid Society and more. Special thanks go to ARGI Financial Group and Wild Eggs for their sponsorship of this event.
As Bank On Louisville advances access to the financial mainstream in our city, I encourage you to support this initiative and share information about Bank On Louisville with friends, family, co-workers or clients. Please contact Bank On Louisville to find out more information about how you can be a champion of this work.
Nicole Eovino is a member of Leadership Louisville Centerâ€™s Ignite Louisville Class of 2014. Her team is currently working with Bank On Louisville to provide community outreach and develop a social marketing strategy. Nicole works at Greater Louisville Inc.â€™s EnterpriseCorp, dedicated to building a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem and culture for early and second-stage fast-growth firms.