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Kevin D. Johnson: MoneyWise Florida campaign helps protect fiscal health from COVID-19 impact

Few were prepared for the impact this pandemic has had on their family finances.

During this prolonged and unprecedented difficult time in our lives, one of the hardest realities about the COVID-19 pandemic is its impact on the fiscal health of so many families, just as it has represented a threat to physical health.

Even in good times, millions of Floridians deal with financial pressures, including mortgage or rent payments, maintaining reliable transportation, food costs, accessing affordable health care, education, aging loved ones, and saving for retirement.

COVID-19 has created additional worry for a large number of Floridians, as shown in a new survey commissioned by a coalition of financial, insurance, and consumer groups working to help Floridians through this difficult time.

To offer help and useful information, MoneyWise Florida, a public/private partnership underwritten by Suncoast Credit Union, has been created. Florida’s elected Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis, heads MoneyWise Florida, and the campaign has launched a news-you-can-use website — Moneywiseflorida.com — with facts, resources, and helpful links that address the wide range of consumer concerns.

In addition, the campaign will share digital messages, informational videos, and ongoing surveys to continue measuring the level of concern that Floridians are experiencing.

Joining Patronis and Suncoast in this effort, other key partners in MoneyWise Florida include the Florida Department of Financial Services, the Florida Insurance Council, the Florida Institute of CPAs, the Florida Prosperity Partnership, the Florida Alliance for Consumers & Taxpayers and the Florida Bankers Association.

The survey conducted for MoneyWise showed that 84% of Floridians are worried about their household’s financial health, up from 69% just a few months before the pandemic. Complicating this tough time is the fact that many people don’t have adequate savings to weather these kinds of financial storms. The survey revealed that 70% of Floridians could not make ends meet for more than a few months on savings alone. This number soars to 88% for those younger than 35 and 89% for minorities.

There are other troubling statistics, available on the website, which depict a need for reliable resources and sources of help — and MoneyWise Florida aims to help meet that need.

Community support and education are part of our DNA at Suncoast, and that’s why we’ve invested in this important initiative.

Few were prepared for the impact this pandemic has had on their family finances. As we work every day to help our members and employees, we are also committed, with CFO Patronis and the campaign’s partners, to help all Floridians get through this troubling time and plan for a brighter future.

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Kevin D. Johnson is President and CEO of Suncoast Credit Union.

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