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An Ounce Of Financial Prevention Offers Hope for MD Struggling Families

Syble Solomon. Photo courtesy of Solomon.
Syble Solomon. Photo courtesy of Solomon.
October 23, 2012

BALTIMORE, Md. - New research is helping families break the cycle of constant financial crises, and it doesn't cost much to do it. According to financial educator Syble Solomon, the key findings confirm that people make mistakes when they're under stress. She says this helps explain why people make the same mistakes over and over again - because each problem makes the next one harder to deal with.

However, if families on the edge can save something and get even a little ahead, they can learn to be in better control, she says.

"That $25, $50 soon becomes $100, $200. And if that's left as untouchable, when there is an emergency, they're actually able to handle it, and every emergency doesn't become a crisis."

Solomon says people at all income levels make financial decisions based on things such as status and the desire to be well-liked - instead of, say, a budget. She says for families on the financial edge, it can be especially hard.

"When people are stressed about money, they make bad choices, and when people have very little money, they frequently feel they don't have any control. Therefore, they make decisions that, in the long run, are not in their best interests."

The good news, she says, is that people can learn to make better decisions and don't need as much money to feel in control of their financial lives. She says simple mental tricks such as word games can help.

"H is hungry, A is angry, L is lonely, and T is tired. When people are hungry, angry, lonely or tired, you want to get them in the habit of saying, 'Halt!'"

Behavioral economists are studying decision-making and using new information about how the brain works, she says.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD