Sense & Centsibility Blog
African-American Businessmen talking

African-American Contributions to Financial Counseling

In honor of Black History Month, I would like to recognize Richard Allen and Absalom Jones. In 1787 they formed the Free African Society (FAS). The FAS was a nondenominational, religious mutual aid organization that provided financial guidance, financial assistance, medical care and emotional support to newly-freed African slaves in the United States.

Guidance on Thrift and Savings

The society’s financial guidance included teaching people about thrift and savings. When some of the freed slaves acquired wealth (which was new to them), they obtained credit from merchants, racked up debt and attempted to live off of that until the bottom fell out. They would ultimately go broke because no one taught them  the skills they needed to be successful.

According to an online article about FAS, the society “helped new citizens establish their new sense of self-determination. While teaching thriftiness and how to save to build wealth, it became the model for banks in the African-American community.”

I’m sure Allen and Jones faced unique challenges in helping freed slaves develop skills in what we now call financial wellness. I can only imagine how they managed to create a budget with many of their clients when wages were $0.39 a day. I also wonder what their financial education workshops were like.

Continuing to Support Financial Wellness

I and other LSS financial counselors meet with people daily who share testimonies and face financial obstacles similar to the freed slaves’ experiences. The recurring theme is that no one ever talked to them about money management.

LSS Financial Counseling might support individuals and families today differently than advisers did in the 1700s. However, our basic purpose is the same: teaching strategies to get out of debt, build savings and thrive financially. I’m confident Allen and Jones would be proud of the work we do to carry on their legacy.

If you are feeling stressed about money, LSS Financial Counseling can help. Our experienced counselors will work with you to create a realistic budget and individualized action plan, with concrete steps to take back control of your finances and ditch the stress. Call us today at 888.577.2227, or complete your counseling online at your convenience.

Author Maria Taylor is a Certified Financial Counselor with LSS Financial Counseling.