Wealth strategies for farm workers

Consumer Action shares asset-building tools and resources for community agencies working with farmworker families.
Published: Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Consumer Action’s Associate for National Priorities, Sol Carbonell, presented at the National Farmworker Conference in Sacramento, CA on April 8th. Entitled Preparing Today For a Greater Harvest Tomorrow, the conference brought together leaders from the farmworker movement, non-profit organizations, federal and state agencies, rural asset builders, and community economic development agencies. “When one fifth of the population in our country is asset poor, that is they do not have enough belongings to survive three months without a job, our work is becoming even more critical,” Carbonell said at the conference. She also shared with participants the latest figures from Cfed, which show that more than half the US population lacks the resources to be to make a down payment on a home, invest in two-years at a community college, or start a business. Carbonell discussed how building and maintaining assets can help a family weather economic crisises, invest in their future, plan for retirement, and transfer wealth to future generations. Carbonell offered the following asset-building strategies to help organizations working with farmworker families:
  • Encourage consumers to start paying down debt, especially high interest debt such as payday loans or credit card balances.
  • Ask consumers to stay away from check-cashing stores, payday lenders, expensive remittance providers and any other high-cost financial service that are stripping consumers of their income.
  • Increase financial literacy by providing information on basic personal banking services, building and maintaining good credit, and budgeting.
  • Assist consumers obtaining the Earned Income Tax Credit and other public benefits.
  • Generate and promote Individual Development Accounts.
  • Provide English classes and job training opportunities to help consumers increase their current income.
  • Promote saving for emergencies, for a house or other long-term goals.
  • Educate consumers on how to retain and protect their current assets, such as providing foreclosure prevention and insurance information.
As farmworker families and rural residents are suffering the consequences of the current economic crisis, Carbonell encouraged all participants to continue spreading the message about unfair and abusive predatory practices and to make sure the consumer voice is heard by those in Washington, D.C. Consumer Action's participation was funded by a Griego v. Rent-A-Center Class Action Settlement cy pres grant.
 

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