The amount of Americans battling with debt and being forced to abandon their retirement plans has been on a steady incline even as politicians insist that the country is in the midst of an economic upswing. While there isn’t much people can do about the economic recovery, or lack thereof for the middle class, entrepreneur and real estate investor Sonia Booker is giving people access to the resources and knowledge they need to start building their wealth.
Booker’s iBuild Wealth workshop will take place on Saturday, kicking off Atlanta’s Money Smart Week.
The workshop will equip attendees with the knowledge they need to make smart decisions with their money and eventually lead them to a debt-free future.
In the years following the Great Recession, more Americans turned to credit cards to make purchases they were no longer able to easily afford, while many remained acutely unaware of how financially unprepared they were for major milestones in life like retirement or paying for their child’s college education.
According to the Federal Reserve, the total amount of outstanding credit stands at a staggering $882.12 billion while student loan debt has climbed past the $1.2 trillion mark.
Auto loans and mortgage debt has grown to $943.76 billion and $8.13 trillion, respectively.
These numbers point to a bleak reality in America where the average household is at least $15,000 in debt without accounting for children’s educational loans, the Federal Reserve reports.
According to Booker, an award-winning author and experienced wealth coach, the lack of a thorough financial education is exactly what leads many people to a future of debt and financial turmoil even as they approach their expected retirement years.
“The average American has less than $32,000 saved for retirement and those numbers show that they plan to retire in the next 10 to 15 years,” Booker told Atlanta Blackstar. “What ends up happening is people are having to work longer and they have to go back in the workforce from running out of money during retirement.”
That type of poor financial planning forces people to become another “accidental WalMart greeter” by the age of 70, Booker added.
While it may seem like today’s economy and financial hardships make it nearly impossible to save up enough for retirement, Booker explains that making the right financial moves throughout one’s life can easily leave them in a better position to retire comfortably at a reasonable age.
That’s exactly what the iBuild Wealth workshop will help attendees learn to do.
Sponsors like Wells Fargo and Countrywide will be helping guests learn how to generate additional income, use real estate as a wealth builder, figure out where in their personal lives they can cut back on unnecessary expenses, prepare to help fund their child’s collegiate career and much more.
Countrywide will also be offering all the attendees a free financial plan, a service that would usually cost someone up to $2,000, Booker noted.
In addition to giving people the resources they need to make and save more money, the workshop will also stress the importance of keeping good credit.
“We talk about how much money you’re losing—the cost of bad credit,” Booker said. “How much money you’re losing by just paying more for everything in life because of your credit.”
She explains that some people could dramatically increase their credit score with a $1,000 investment towards paying off their debts and they don’t even realize that not making that investment will cost them “thousands of dollars” in the long run.
The workshop will clearly present a variety of information that will be helpful for parents and those nearing retirement, but Booker also stressed the importance of getting teens and young adults exposed to this information as well.
Many of the financial decisions that can eventually turn into nightmares happen when people are too young to even realize the consequences of their decisions.
That’s why Booker has opened the event up to people as young as 13 and created special branches of the workshop that will cater to the younger audience.
Young entrepreneurs will also be on hand to speak to these groups about starting their own businesses and realizing that it’s never too early to start building their wealth.
“When I go speak at schools and I talk to young people, I tell them, ‘You guys have an opportunity to write your own history,’” she added. “All the stuff we’re trying to get out of—you got pay here car lots, debt consolidations, credit counseling— you guys have the opportunity to understand this stuff and not even go there.”
The skills they will pick up at the workshop could ensure that they don’t fall into the same cycle of debt that many before them have already become another victim to.
The iBuild Wealth workshop will take place from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm EST at the Impact Conference Center in Atlanta.
Attendees will need to register for the free event online at MoneySmartGeorgia.com or SoniaBooker.com.
In addition to getting access to wealth-building tips and financial education, the event also promises “food, music and fun” for the attendees.