Friday, November 1, 2013

My Asset Poverty Status

I recently had the opportunity to attend a conference entitled Pathways to Prosperity: Integrating Asset-Building throughout Communities. It was here that a term I had never before heard was being thrown around, asset poverty. Being a contradictory set of words I was instantly confused until I learned the meaning. “A family can be defined as asset poor if it has insufficient net worth to support itself at federal poverty level for three months in absence of income, i.e., net worth less than $4,577 for a family of three in 2009” (Assets & Opportunity Profile). As I was assumedly standing in a room of mostly asset stable professionals I realized I might be the only asset poor individual in the room.

My predicament
  • As an AmeriCorps member I serve at poverty level and make only about $1,000 monthly
  • I would consider my educational degree of a B.A. in Art History an asset. With this I may be able to expedite time without employment if I was to lose my current position
  • I have no economic assets such as a vehicle, home, or significant savings
  • However, I currently only have two bills, rent and utilities, about $550 monthly

As you can see, if for any reason I lost my position or received a surprise expense, I would be in hot water very quickly. On the other hand, I learned at the conference ways to combat my asset poverty status. I decided to take the Money Smart Challenge. Money Smart can be found at and is a free, highly reputable, financial literacy curriculum. New Century IDA uses Money Smart for Crosby Scholars participants. Info on Crosby Scholars programs can be found at, to participate contact ESR’s Barbara Johnson at With the Money Smart curriculum I can learn techniques to become more economically savvy and begin to implement savings. I will also learn about credit building options.  Since I have no credit to date, learning these methods will help. I plan on using this information while choosing my first credit card!

I know that once I establish stable savings and build credit then I can look into making my first asset purchase such as my own home or vehicle.  What do you think? Would you consider yourself asset poor? If not, prove it with

If you want to look into ways out of asset poverty like me or if you’re interested in helping build asset stable communities I suggest reading Asset & Opportunity Profile: Winston-Salem and Forsyth County found at

Be on the lookout for the next blog on my Money Smart Challenge progress!

Works Cited
"Assets & Opportunity Profile: Winston-Salem and Forsyth County." ASSETS & OPPORTUNITY PROFILE. (2012): n. page. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.


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