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Op-Ed: Embracing financial literacy this holiday season

Nov. 29, 2023 By Leonard Stekol

As we approach the festive holiday season, the importance of financial literacy becomes even more pronounced. Amid the joys of celebrations and gift-giving, it’s crucial to remember that sound financial education can be the most useful gift we give to ourselves and our community.

At Ridgewood Savings Bank, we recognize the significance of financial literacy and we are committed to being a community leader in this respect. To date, in 2023, we have held over 250 community workshops reaching more than 15,000 people. We firmly believe that financial knowledge is the key to making the holiday season not only enjoyable but also financially responsible.

The holiday season often brings increased financial pressure, with expenses for gifts, travel and festivities mounting. In the spirit of giving, many individuals and families tend to overspend, leading to financial stress in the aftermath. This is where financial literacy provides a skill set with a good return on investment. It equips us with the tools to create a holiday budget, prioritize spending, and avoid unnecessary debt.

For students, understanding the value of a budget and responsible spending during the holiday season is a valuable lesson. By imparting the knowledge of financial planning, we help students make informed decisions about how much to spend on gifts and celebrations without compromising their long-term financial goals.

Young people, as they enter the workforce, can also benefit from financial literacy during the holidays. Our online tools and Ridgewood Financial Academy educate them about the importance of living within their means and spending wisely, in order to set aside a portion of their income — in this case, for holiday expenses — to ensure they can enjoy the season without incurring unintended debt.

Seniors often find themselves on fixed budgets during retirement, making holiday spending a challenge. Our in-person workshops and programs help to offer seniors strategies for enjoying the season while staying within their means. This allows them to create cherished memories without compromising their financial stability.

Small business owners who play a vital role in our community’s economic health need financial literacy to manage their holiday season operations. Our easy-to-use online financial calculators help them navigate increased demand and manage cash flow effectively, enabling them to thrive during this busy time of year.

Ridgewood Savings Bank is committed to being a trusted partner in your financial journey, especially during the holiday season. We believe that financial education empowers individuals to make the most of their holiday celebrations while ensuring that their financial goals remain on track.

Having a better understanding of financial literacy helps us approach the holiday season with confidence and peace of mind. It enables us to plan for gifts, travel and gatherings without accumulating excessive debt. By understanding the importance of saving and budgeting, we can truly enjoy the holidays without the stress of financial strain.

As the holiday season approaches, we invite you to explore the wealth of resources and expertise we offer, whether you’re a student, a young professional, a senior citizen or a small business owner. By prioritizing financial education, we can all enjoy a holiday season that’s not only filled with joy, but also financially responsible. When our community is financially savvy and stable, we can truly celebrate the spirit of the season, cherishing the moments that matter most without the burden of financial worries.

Leonard Stekol is chairman, president and CEO of Ridgewood Savings Bank, New York’s largest mutual savings bank.

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