Jennifer Tescher: How to Improve Your Financial Health

October 4 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Let’s Talk Money

The other day, I was listening to vintage Beyoncé—that’s right, Destiny’s Child—and their song “Bills, Bills, Bills.” Aside from the fact that I think this song really should make a comeback, as I listened to it again nearly two decades later, I was struck by the content.

The ladies sing about establishing good credit, staying within a budget and, of course, bills, bills, bills. Becoming financially responsible isn’t something to wait on. Do it today. If Excel spreadsheets freak you out, grab a good, old-fashioned notebook and start tracking your expenses. Seriously, it’s what Beyoncé would want you to do.


While only 18 percent of millennial women demonstrate high financial literacy versus 29 percent of millennial men, the good news is this gap is closing. According to The President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, financial literacy is defined as “the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being.” In simple terms, it means being able to pay bills and not go broke.

You can improve your financial literacy by talking about money and by taking small steps. Learn about one financial topic at a time; you don’t have to wrap your brain around mutual funds and credit-card interest rates right away. There are a lot of awesome online tools out there to help. I even use Pinterest to get examples of how other women budget well.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Jennifer Tescher, President and CEO of The Center for Financial Services Innovation

Jennifer Tescher started her career as a journalist highlighting urban poverty and inequality. The subject matter led her to think about a way to help everyday people be better off. Now, she is the president and CEO of The Center for Financial Services Innovation. By seeding new ventures and identifying practices that help consumers, CFSI aims to help alter the American financial landscape.

When giving a talk about financial health at a CFSI conference, Jennifer began by asking the audience, “How are you?” referring not to how the crowd felt, but rather, the shape of their finances. Some people might answer that question by noting their worry about how much is in their emergency fund or how to save for retirement. In fact, Jennifer says people are more interested in financial stability than increasing their income, with only 8 percent choosing the latter.

Jennifer’s whole job revolves around giving American consumers the skills they need to get that financial stability. In 2004, she founded CFSI with the intention to increase Americans’ access to high-quality financial products and services. CFSI also conducts some great research on financial health, ranging from how prepaid credit cards impact consumers’ lives, to how well banks are doing at truly serving consumers. CFSI is the authority on consumer financial health, and Jennifer’s vision is one of a financially healthy America in which people’s day-to-day financial systems function well and increase the likelihood of their long-term resilience and opportunities.

By giving frequent interviews in the press, as well as sharing financial-literacy knowledge at tons of speaking engagements, this smart woman makes finances more accessible and less intimidating to women.

Hopefully, today’s quick discussion about gaining financial knowledge and building confidence in the fact that you can be smart with money has inspired you to take the next step toward your financial stability. So, to quote Jennifer Tescher, how are you?


We often get so consumed with the concept that money is power. But what’s most powerful isn’t in diamonds and Bentleys; it’s in feeling confident that no matter what happens tomorrow, you’ll be financially secure. When it comes to money, take some advice from this wise proverb:

“The art is not in making money, but in keeping it.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us!

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