The Self-Sufficiency Standard approach to economic security consists of three elements: securing the costs of daily basic needs, creating an emergency savings fund, and choosing the appropriate asset-building Economic Security Pathway(s).
Once a family has secured income at the Self-Sufficiency Standard level and instituted their emergency savings fund, the road to long-term economic security will be different for each. For some, this might be additional savings, to meet immediate costs (such as a car breakdown) or to ensure sufficient resources for the long-term costs of retirement. For others, paying off debts may be the first priority. For still others, income beyond that needed for the essentials may be devoted to moving to alternative housing, enabling the family to leave an abusive partner or a problematic neighborhood.
The Economic Security Pathways Report, a companion tool to the Self-Sufficiency Standard, enables individuals and households to make informed choices about the economic security pathway that is appropriate for their situation and family. United Way of North Carolina supported the development of this tool to help United Ways and their partners in local communities provide information and insight to aid families in their efforts to access resources that make getting on the road to economic security possible.
The data reveals the cost of education opportunities by county; offers cost analysis of homeownership; and builds a case for saving for the future. Exploring the cost of different pathways to improve economic security will help families chart realistic paths to achieve and maintain financial stability. It is not assumed that every family can or should take any or all of these pathways. Rather, by providing this information, this report enables individuals and households to make informed choices as to which ESPs make the most sense for their situation and family.
Three key pathways that adults can take to move closer to long-term economic security addressed in the Report:
improved housing or homeownership
savings for retirement
Alternatives are presented for each of these pathways, so that different options and the associated costs can be explored. The numbers provided are meant to give estimates of what and how much the costs might be for each security pathway. Of course, the actual costs for an individual family or householder will be determined by their unique situation and choices. For each Economic Security Pathway, costs are shown as specifically as possible and, when data allows, costs are shown by county. These scenarios are meant to be illustrative rather than definitive, and to suggest how the ESP data presented can be used towards planning for a more economically secure future through asset building.