Well, well, well. Every once in a while, “remember when” shows up in our lives.
Recently, I hearkened back on my high school years. I remember sitting in Psychology class thinking about how, on most days, the teacher’s long-winded monologue was going to have little effect on my long-term well-being. Having to pay attention for that 55-minute block of time was, after all, a distraction from my intended goal of daydreaming about a girl in Spanish class.
Well, well, well. In one of those classes, we studied Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. And guess what? I must have tuned in that day because I recently brought it up in conversation. I ripped off this idea that, as it applies to banking, the economic ills of our time have more than likely eroded the esteem of a respectful relationship with the consumers’ bank of choice – a result of physiological and safety needs becoming a more pressing matter than moving forward with a “relationship.”
How ‘bout that? I’m spewing something straight out of Maslow’s teachings. In other words, when one is unemployed for a long period of time, with little or no prospects emerging for employment, we quickly return to taking care of our basic needs. Forget how much one might love their bank or credit union. That previously earmarked loan payment is needed to buy food. Some other day is reserved for worrying about catching up. Enough said.
We proudly serve the LMI populations of the St. Louis area. LMI means “low-moderate income,” which means that there is not a lot of money in the kitty to begin with. A safety net of savings is not likely. As a result, when the economy takes its toll, disaster looms at a much faster pace. “Disaster” in the context of those with modest means is a flat tire, gas going up 25 cents a gallon, a child getting sick and needing a prescription filled. Diapers!
Those with less income live a life relatively close to zero as it relates to money. That’s with a job. That’s with 40 hours, plus the occasional overtime. These are not reckless or imprudent people for the most part. These are what the world historically refers to as those who just “make ends meet.” Now imagine life without the job. Credit is unavailable, family members are tapped out, and job prospects are limited. Lay witness to the fact that when there is a little upset, the fall is quick and hard.
Banking relationships are important at the LMI level of income. Having a respectful relationship with a financial institution is beneficial. It usually results in some improvement in one’s lifestyle and standard of living. At the very least, the financial institution in question represents a repository for one’s wages and keeps people out of the check cashers and payday lenders. That, in and of itself, is worth hundreds of dollars per year.
But, banking relationships are a luxury found in what Maslow defines as “esteem” – a long way from food, shelter, safety and family. Something has to give. It’s the relationship. Accounts go below zero without repayment, and loans go unpaid.
There are many in our community suffering right now. How bad is the economy? It’s relative. Say a prayer for those on the wrong end of the improved economic news. There are more of them than you think.