Each year the month of April is dedicated to Financial Literacy in the United States. But, do we need a whole month to celebrate, financial literacy? Well per a recent FINRA survey nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy.
It clear one of our fundamental life skills, money management, is lacking. So what is someone to do if they lack overall financial knowledge? Increase it. The good news is its never been easier to acquire such information with a click of a button, from the comfort of your home.
Financial Literacy Resources
There is no one size fits all solution to getting out of debt, managing money, and building wealth. It all depends on a number of personal factors, things like income, total debt, and family size. These resources will help give you some necessary information to increase your financial knowledge.
The Federal Trade Commission had put together several short easy to understand videos on budgets and credit cards.
Website and Blogs
There are hundreds if not thousands of websites and personal finance blogs to help you increase your overall money IQ. Here are a few good ones:
Believe it or not, banks have become an excellent source of financial information. Most banks offer their member's free financial education and counseling services. Including understanding your credit report and how to improve your score. Other services like avoiding bankruptcy, foreclosure, and repossession. Check with your branch or bank's website to see what they have to offer.
Financial Educators at School
Financial education should ideally be embedded in the high school curriculum. Personal finance education is a requirement in only 17 states, but this does not mean that students in the other states do not have access to it. However, high schools and colleges host numerous trusted financial educators to teach students about financial management and other financial skills. If you are a high school or college student check to see what's available at your school.
Financial education in the workplace is essential since retirement planning has shifted from pension plans to contribution plans. It takes more than answering a few questions after skimming through a human resources PowerPoint. Knowledge of the pros and cons of potential choices is necessary. Check with your employer to see what services are available.
There are many great personal finance book available. A quick google search will reveal several. Check with your local library before spending any money on one. Here are two we highly recommend.
Need an overall money blueprint?
The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn't Have to Be Complicated – by Harold Pollack and Helaine Olen.
In debt, then this book is for you.
The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness – by Dave Ramsey.
What to look into the minds of today's millionaires?
The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy – by Stanley & Danko.
Personal Capital is a super easy to use online tool that helps organize all of your various accounts into one place. It offers many free tools to help manage your finances and keep an eye on your overall net worth.
Microsoft Excel is a great way to build a budget and get track of income and expenses if you like crunching the number yourself. There are many free budget templates available on the web for download too.
Broke, Busted, and Disgusted is an excellent documentary film that all high school students and their parents should watch if they are planning on going to college. It tells the story of both educators and student and the traps of student loan debt.
Podcasts are a great way to increase your knowledge on a topic when commuting or completing chores around the house.
One personal finance podcast that we recommend is the Stacking Benjamins Show. Be warned; you will not learn anything by listening to this podcast.
Another is the Dave Ramsey show. If you need a kick in your financial pants, Dave is just the guy to do it. Stick around for the super motivating debt free screams, from real people just like you and me.
Get Out of Debt
If you don't feel like you have the time to read, listen, watch any of the above resources consider these basic steps for getting out of debt and organizing your money.
• Realize you need help
• Define a “Why”
• Build a budget
• Communicate and agree to the Budget
• Stop building new debt
• Place expenses into “wants” verse “needs” buckets
• Build an emergency fund (cash savings)
• Pick Debt Payoff method/Track progress / stay motivated
• Build Wealth
Most importantly consider your why. Having a clear “why” will help keep you motivated to reach your end goal.
So as you can see, there are many different ways to increase your financial literacy knowledge. April is a good month as any to begin a journey to financial health. Why not start today?
Brian is a dad, husband, and an IT professional by trade. A Personal Finance Blogger since 2013 who, with his family, has successfully paid off over $100K worth of consumer debt. Now that Brian is debt-free, his mission is to help his three children prepare for their financial lives and educate others to achieved financial success. He blogs at Debt Discipline.