This book examines the concept of financial health and well-being from many perspectives, bringing together the voices of long-time champions of financial capability and newer voices hailing from a variety of sectors, such as public health, criminal justice, and business. What unites them is the shared recognition that we must do more to help all Americans have control over their financial lives and achieve their financial goals. As represented on the book’s cover, financial health and well-being is the bridge to a strong financial future, connecting individuals and families to greater opportunity, creating more vibrant communities, and in turn, strengthening the social and economic fabric of our nation.
In the United States, we have traditionally defined financial status by income or wealth, but experts in policy and practice from a range of fields are expanding our focus to better understand what consumers actually want and need in their financial lives. A consensus is emerging that satisfaction with one’s financial life has elements that are both objective (income, wealth, cash flow) and subjective (financial freedom, on track to meet financial goals). And as many of the authors in this book make clear, financial health is deeply tied to the availability of opportunity, which too often depends on factors outside an individual’s control, such as race, parental socioeconomic status, and macroeconomic climate.