Navigating the complex financial world can be daunting, particularly for individuals who are new to the financial systems in the United States or facing financial hardships. However, for those in need, accessible financial products are available that can help them improve their financial situation, such as tailored bank accounts, personal loans, and insurance policies. These are some of the products, services, and tools designed to support those facing financial challenges:
Having a bank account is essential for managing everyday finances, but nearly 20% of adults making $25,000 or less didn’t have a bank account in 2022, and the unbanked rate is high for younger adults, Black and Hispanic adults, and adults with disabilities. Barriers like unfamiliarity with banking vocabulary and identification requirements can hinder access for some individuals. To address this, certain banks now offer special accounts tailored to vulnerable groups, including low-income individuals, refugees, and migrants. Some of the features may include accounts that can be opened without a physical address or government-issued ID, making them more inclusive and accessible to those in need.
For individuals in need of immediate financial assistance, personal loans can be a valuable resource. Beyond providing quick access to funds, personal loans offer a path to improved financial management by helping cover a temporary shortage in income, major unexpected expenses, or planned purchases. To make personal loans accessible, some lenders, including Oportun, offer same-day decisions on loan applications, do not require U.S.-issued IDs, and do not require credit histories. Some may even offer low-interest loans or interest-free repayment plans, catering to the specific needs of financially vulnerable individuals. The U.S. Treasury Department recognizes the importance of access to responsible credit and issues certifications to lenders who are making a positive impact, classified as Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).
Insurance policies provide a safety net for unforeseen events, yet high premiums can pose a challenge for low-income households. Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act and state-sponsored programs aim to provide insurance coverage for those who may not otherwise qualify. Additionally, some organizations have established specific insurance programs to offer protection against particular risks, such as illness or unemployment, catering to the needs of financially vulnerable individuals.
Financial literacy is an effective way to help achieve economic well-being. Many organizations offer free financial education programs to help individuals learn essential financial skills such as budgeting, saving, investing, and overall money management. Community centers, libraries, and online platforms host seminars, workshops, and interactive courses, providing valuable resources for those seeking to improve their financial knowledge. When considering and using a financial product, real questions will arise throughout the experience—called “teachable moments”. Take advantage of the educational materials to maximize these moments and advance financial literacy.
Innovations in technology have furthered the accessibility of financial products. Mobile banking, for instance, allows individuals to conduct transactions, check account balances, and pay bills at their convenience, wherever they are. Moreover, Financial Technology (FinTech) companies have revolutionized the financial industry by offering affordable, convenient, and faster digital solutions for saving, investing, spending, lending, and more. Their products are often designed to solve a specific need and to create an amazing customer experience. Overall, FinTechs can serve a broader audience than the financially sophisticated that traditional banks often serve. These technological advancements cater to the needs of individuals who may lack the time to visit traditional banks but still want to manage their finances effectively.
In conclusion, accessible financial products play a crucial role in supporting individuals facing financial hardships. By providing tailored solutions, these products empower those in need to improve their financial well-being and move towards a more secure and prosperous future.