For many Americans, the topic of personal financial literacy is as intimidating as advanced algorithmic algebra. But it doesn’t have to be so daunting or difficult. Understanding and developing some fundamental financial principles will radically alter your relationship with money. More importantly, it will empower you and help to you attain new heights personally and professionally.
Identifying the Problem
Studies have shown that two-thirds of Americans cannot pass a basic financial competency quiz. This is very alarming since personal financial literacy is a life skill. No matter what your profession or background, we all have to deal with money.
So why do two-thirds of Americans struggle with financial literacy? The answer is simple: We haven’t made financial education a priority.
As a result, many Americans don’t realize they don’t have this essential tool in their toolbox until there is a serious problem and they are swimming in debt or on the verge of losing their home or business. Having the education to make smart financial decisions will help ensure this never happens.
Here are some basics to get you started.
Personal Financial Literacy 101
What does it mean to be financially literate? Although reading a book is proof that you are literate, balancing your checkbook is not the only criteria for being financially literate. This is not a singularly defined skill.
Instead, consider it more like possessing a body of knowledge that allows you to make smart financial decisions because you understand both the short and long-term financial of those decisions. Basically, it means being fluent in all of the financial areas that impact your life that you personally direct and being able to have educated discussions with experts and advisors that assist you in making decisions in areas where you may not be making day to day decisions (like retirement or tax planning).
Goals to achieving personal financial literacy are:
- Create a workable and realistic household budget
- Save money over the long-term
- Prioritize your spending
- Open and use a checking or savings account without incurring excessive fees
- Comparison shop for credit cards based on interest rates, terms and reward programs
- Use personal credit and debt effectively
- Successfully negotiate and finance a large purchase (i.e. a house or car)
- Save for retirement through smart investing
If you fully grasp and put these steps into practice, you will be able to more effectively manage your finances. But if you need help understanding the basics, consider taking a class online, attending a seminar or reading beginner books on the subject. The book, Save Wisely Spend Happily, that I wrote in cooperation with the AICPA, was created to provide understanding in these areas of personal financial literacy, as well as give practical examples of the concepts at work.
Make Financial Literacy a Priority
I have dedicated my career to personal financial literacy empowerment. It is up to you to make personal financial literacy a priority for yourself, your family and for future generations. Doing so will empower you in ways you have never imagined. You will see unprecedented growth both personally and professionally.
Stay tuned for future blog posts on the subject.
For more information on financial literacy or if you are interested in being mentored, contact me, today.