The Financial Journey is a unique series focused on financial education and opportunities. These stories have been created through a strategic partnership between Wells Fargo and Word In Black.

By Roz Edward

Millions of Americans are still reeling from the unparalleled setbacks of the past few years, and too many Black consumers continue to face serious financial fallout in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many of those losses suffered are, in large part, due to job loss, wage reductions, and the subsequent devastation imposed by inflation. The upheaval and insecurity hinder financial recovery for individuals and families.

But New Year’s resolutions aside — and post-pandemic financial recovery seemingly around the corner — it’s imperative that African American consumers examine their current financial status, assess their economic wellbeing, and develop a realistic plan to get back on track to building savings and wealth for short, long-term, and legacy goals.

Wells Fargo wants consumers to do more than just survive or persevere through the storm. The financial institution encourages saving and budgeting, addresses budget basics, and is applying new strategies and products to help Black Americans save now to help build healthy financial futures.

Nicole Burrell, SVP, Delaware South District Manager, Wells Fargo, explains that the task of getting your finances back in order and moving toward your financial goals is not as daunting as it may appear at first glance.

The banking leader shared invaluable advice for consumers to help get their bearings and get going with budgeting and savings plans.

Nicole Burrell

“The first thing to do is analyze and start with where you are financially,” Burrell said, adding that this starts with assessing where you are with your saving and budgeting goals. Sitting down with a banker can help.

“People don’t know what they don’t know until they sit down with someone and go through the discovery process and review debt versus starting at trying to save a certain amount of dollars,” she added. “They’re able to see the bigger picture and use resources to help them to get on track…or make adjustments within the means they have already.”

You can start building a budget by just making a record of how much you spend vs. how much monthly income you have, Burrell said. This can include how much you’re paying towards credit debt. 

People don’t know what they don’t know until they sit down with someone and go through the discovery process and review debt versus starting at trying to save a certain amount of dollars.

Nicole Burrell, SVP, Delaware South District Manager at Wells Fargo

“Just do a deep analysis because a lot of times your savings comes from readjusting your debt in order for you to be able to save money,” she said.

To help pay down credit card debt faster, consider finding a credit card that offers a 0 percent interest rate on balance transfers and allows you to consolidate your credit card debt into one monthly payment. Consult Wells Fargo’s Smarter Credit Center for other tips to help consolidate debt. 

Wells Fargo also offers its customers tools to help stay on target like Budget Watch, which allows users to create a personalized budget and know on a month-by-month basis where they are on spending vs. their income. 

Sometimes there are emergencies and if something throws you off track in one month, Budget Watch can help you decide where you may need to reduce expenses in the future. Even if you are making financial strides after setting your budget, Burrell recommends meeting with a banker to see what your financial picture looks like.

What a banker can do is help a customer discover what their needs are. 

“Our bankers will go through a full discovery around how and what you are looking to do, what you are looking to accomplish, and provide you with a financial plan of how you can get there,” she said.

Getting back on the money track may appear to be a daunting task — or at least one that doesn’t appear feasible in the short term or not even long term. But according to Wells Fargo, it’s more than possible to achieve your financial objectives and they offer tools and strategies to help consumers reach solid financial footing.

“I wouldn’t have been doing this work for the past 32 years if I didn’t have a passion for helping customers get to their financial goals,” Burrell said. “At Wells Fargo we are excited to help customers discover what’s possible and meet their financial goals.”

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.