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Consumer Connection: Financial Awareness

Sonya Sellmeyer

By Sonya Sellmeyer, Consumer Advocacy Officer for the Iowa Insurance Division

National Financial Awareness day is August 14th and is the ideal time to review your financial situation and goals.  Everyone is on their own financial journey and increasing your financial knowledge to be better financially aware is important for all Iowans no matter your age or stage of the journey.

To help Iowans increase their financial knowledge, the Iowa Insurance Division developed unbiased and sales-free state government resources for Iowans that teach the basics of financial wellness as part of our public outreach program. 

Save4Later is a free website that provides resources to help financially prepare for retirement. All Iowans need to know how to plan, earn, save, and retire on their terms and the Save4Later website will help you with educational courses, videos, calculators, and quick start guides. 

SmartHER Money is a free website geared toward empowering women to take control of their finances and empowers women to face their fears and anxieties about money, financial planning, and investing.

Iowa Fraud Fighters is a free website with information and resources to help you protect yourself and loved ones against fraud.

In using these resources as part of increasing your financial knowledge to be better financially aware, you will learn the basics like creating a budget, the importance of an emergency fund, opening a savings account, paying bills on time to avoid fees, whittling down debt to avoid paying interest and increasing your credit score.

From there you’ll learn to save by planning for your family’s college expenses and how a 529 plan could be beneficial.  There is also information about employer-sponsored retirement plans and how to take advantage of the ‘free money’ associated with employer matching, and learning how to open an Individual Retirement Account (IRAs).

As you continue to grow in your financial knowledge, there are resources about understanding taxes, your credit score and your credit reports. Reviewing your insurance coverage and ensuring you have proper coverage limits as well as understanding the different types of insurance and what is appropriate for your circumstances can be discussed with a licensed insurance agent.

You’ll also learn about other ways to put your money to work for you by investing to build wealth, and prepare for retirement.  Retirement portfolios need regular reviews to ensure investment strategies align with your goals, age, and risk tolerance.  Consulting with a licensed financial professional when necessary can be helpful at this stage.

Lastly, protecting your hard-earned assets is important so the resources offer information about having discussions with your family about finances, freezing your credit with all three credit bureaus, and organizing your financial records with a filing system including making a list of policies and account numbers.  At some stages of the financial journey, it may be wise to consider a power of attorney for financial matters.  Periodically reviewing the ten tips to prevent fraud can help you avoid being a victim of a scam.

All Iowans are on a financial journey.  Utilize these free, unbiased resources today to help set, review, adjust, and maintain your financial goals regularly to become financially aware and secure.