April 7, 2020 is #FinHealthMatters Day.
American Family Insurance is a proud member of the Financial Health Network.
Through my early childhood, I was aware of my family’s financial situation. I thought it was fun to visit my dad for lunch in between his college classes, eat the pizza he brought home from his job as a delivery driver, and wander the aisles of Toys ‘R Us where he was able to get temporary holiday hours. By watching him, I learned the value of hard work. But I also remember the bright colors of the payday lending storefront. The whispers of the “b-word”: bankruptcy.
As a former military family, we had a lot of privileges; my dad earned retirement pay and was able to complete his bachelor’s degree on the GI Bill. It was still a struggle. My family would have been particularly vulnerable to the financial consequences of COVID-19, and I don’t know where we would have been able to turn for help. Today, I am in a position to be that help.
Working in social impact venture capital, every day is #FinHealthMatters Day for me and our team, as we meet entrepreneurs with a vision for empowering low and moderate income communities under our “Economic Opportunity for All” investment thesis. In the first year of our work at the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, we’ve seen the strongest startup ideas come from individuals with lived experience. One of our portfolio founders, Frederick Hutson of Pigeonly, saw the opportunity to solve the communication problem for incarcerated individuals and their families after experiencing the pain point himself during his time in prison. Wherever you are right now, in this situation, you are witness to a problem that can be solved through disruption.
I studied theater at Dartmouth, Shonda Rhimes’ alma mater. So to quote Judy Smith, the crisis manager who inspired the television series Scandal:
“There’s always an opportunity with crisis.”
While #FinHealthMatters Day was scheduled for April 7th before the COVID-19 crisis emerged, this day now presents a more urgent opportunity. Improving financial health means “building working systems that allow people to save, spend, borrow, and plan in order to set themselves up for long-term success.” Many of us were not set up for success before COVID-19, but now those numbers are rising. I call on you to utilize the experiences you are living now to craft a solution for a future that puts success within the reach of more Americans than ever, to create a system that works better than the one we had before. You have the cure within you.
If you don’t have an idea off the top of your head, I have a few book recommendations to get you started. Explore what sustainable ideas could look like by reading Ann Mei Chang’s Lean Impact. And then let it sit in your brain. When you stop thinking, the ideas will come. Open yourself to creativity and take a page out of Manoush Zomorodi’s Bored and Brilliant or Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (#womenwriters). It could be just the prescription we need.
Once you have your idea, I want to help. Reach out on LinkedIn and let’s start conversations that will help make people whole. It’s personal for me, and if it’s personal to you, now is the time.