Columbus, OH -- As American consumers begin to emerge from the Great Recession, they are hungry for financial insight and guidance to help rebuild household balance sheets and to start planning for a brighter financial future. In response to this need, Nationwide Insurance is once again partnering with author and broadcaster Tavis Smiley to bring free financial empowerment workshops to five major cities in the coming months.
The need to address financial literacy and financial planning - especially among African-American households - is highlighted in a new survey commissioned by The Smiley Group and Nationwide Insurance that shows the recession has impacted how Americans are preparing themselves for the future.
According to the survey of 1,200 participants, African Americans have made more positive changes in the past year than the general population as a result of the economy, including creating a household budget (37 percent to 31 percent), focusing on paying off credit cards or other debt (49 percent to 42 percent) and starting or increasing contributions to their 401(k) (8 percent to 5 percent).
However, the survey indicates there is still work to be done. About 38 percent of African Americans say their financial situation has gotten worse since last year. In fact, one in four African Americans say they don't know where to start when it comes to planning for their financial future. About 29 percent of African Americans say they did not spend any time on saving or investment related activities in the past year, 16 percent stopped or reduced their 401(k) contributions and 14 percent say they took a loan from their 401(k) in the past 12 months.
"The results of the survey underscore that Americans - black and white - are more optimistic, but they are struggling to emerge from this downturn on their feet," said Tavis Smiley. "This marks the third year of our partnership and I appreciate Nationwide's ongoing commitment to holding these financial empowerment sessions. As the world continues to recover from the recession, Black America has the highest unemployment rates, was heavily impacted by the housing crisis and was hit hard by the credit crisis. These sessions are as timely today as they were when we started the tour."
In its first two years, nearly 5,000 people took part in the On Your Side® Tour with Tavis Smiley and the need for these sessions is still great. The free events are open to the public and focus on economic empowerment and financial planning.
"As America continues to see the long-term impact of the Great Recession, our safety nets are slowly diminishing and consumers are becoming more aware that fiscal accountability and responsibility is up to them," said Jim Lyski, Nationwide's executive vice president of marketing. "Consumers are seeking financial information and tools to help them plan for today and prepare for tomorrow. We view our On Your Side tours as a way to help people help themselves and make a difference in the communities we serve."
The events feature a general session with Smiley as the keynote speaker, three informational seminars with breakout sessions for group participation and provide other information - including financial basics, retirement planning, employment opportunities and more. The dates for the 2010 Tavis Smiley On Your Side® Tour are as follows:
June 19 in Cincinnati, OH
September 25 in Columbia, S.C.
October 9 in Pittsburgh, PA
October 30 in Greensboro, N.C.
November 6 in Baltimore, MD
Despite the recession, African Americans are more confident about their financial future than the general population. The survey shows 66 percent of African Americans expect their household situation to be better a year from now, compared to only 39 percent of the general population sharing similar optimism. That's an 8 percent jump in confidence for African Americans from last year. In contrast, only 8 percent of African Americans expect their financial future to worsen over the next year, compared to 16 percent last year.
About the Survey
The national, online survey was conducted in December 2009 by the Blackstone Group. A Web panel was used to collect national data for 1,202 respondents split into two sample groups. General Population, ages 18+ (n=601) and African American, ages 18+ (n=601). The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.
About Tavis Smiley and The Smiley Group
From his celebrated conversations with world figures, to his work to inspire the next generation of leaders, as a broadcaster, author, advocate and philanthropist, Tavis Smiley continues to be an outstanding voice for change. Smiley is currently the host of the late night television talk show Tavis Smiley on PBS and The Tavis Smiley Show from Public Radio International (PRI). TIME magazine honored Smiley in 2009 as one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People." The Smiley Group, Inc. is a communications corporation established in support of human rights and related empowerment issues. TSG serves as the holding company for various enterprises encompassing broadcast and print media, lectures, symposiums and the Internet. For more information, visit www.tavistalks.com.
Nationwide, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by A.M. Best. The company provides a full range of personalized insurance and financial services, including auto insurance, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, life insurance, farm, commercial insurance, administrative services, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and health and productivity services. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.
Nationwide, the Nationwide Framemark and On Your Side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.
Gayle Saunders (614) 203-4772
Vanesse Lloyd Sgambati (215) 888-4673