Social media campaign shares D.C. residents’ financial experiences

The business school’s financial literacy center is giving a voice to the wallets of Washingtonians.

The Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center’s new social media campaign, “If My Wallet Could Talk,” conducts man-on-the-street interviews to help locals with their finances. The leaders of the center said the program makes financial literacy a more accessible issue because it associates human faces with a complicated topic.

Each post includes a photo of a random pedestrian on or near the Foggy Bottom Campus and a long quote about the individual’s personal finances and financial knowledge. Using the hashtag “#IfMyWalletTalks,” the center shares people’s anecdotes on their Facebook page.

Claire Meyer, the executive assistant at the center, said the series started in April to celebrate Financial Literacy Month.

“We gained some inspiration from Humans of New York because they did such a good job of bringing these lofty topics down to earth,” Meyer said. “We felt that putting a face on financial literacy, show the story behind the numbers, would be really important to share.”

Meyer added that this is a pilot program, and officials in the center hope to do similar programs if people say it is helpful.

“The goal in sharing this is so that other people, when they see these posts, start thinking about their relationships with managing money and what they have done and what they could do better,” Meyer said. “Getting people to think about how they manage their own money is our big, overall goal.”

Kristen Burnell, interim executive director at the center, said the team conducting the project has consistently found that people want more financial education but are unable to get it.

“There’s a lot of people who, I think, would like to have more financial education,” Burnell said. “There’s a lot of people who feel very crippled by debt, things that we were expecting given our research. We’re seeing more and more people squeezed between having to save for their retirement and having to support their kids.”

Burnell said this program is outside the normal operations of the center, which focuses on financial literacy research and how that information is spread. The center is currently working on the annual National Financial Capabilities Study, its largest and most extensive study of America’s financial literacy.

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