A Month to Promote Financial Literacy
Financial advisors believe that, with the right educational tools, people who might otherwise fall into financial difficulties can learn how to take better care of their money. Through financial education, it’s possible to teach people how to make well-informed financial choices as part of an overall program that encourages financial responsible behavior.
According to multiple studies, people who are financially literate are those who are the most likely to meet their educational goals, succeed in their careers and even enjoy more rewarding relationships and a personal life.
Twenty years ago the Jump$tart Coalition began to promote April as Financial Literacy Month. The original goal of the project involved promoting financial literacy to young people but as the program grew, the Coalition realized that the aim of teaching financial literacy was just as important for adults as for youth.
Today, SlotoCash Casino is advocating for financial literacy to online casino players as well as to others. The casino believes that it is imperative that everyone take the opportunity that Financial Literacy Month offers to learn the basic tools that are needed to spend and save responsibly.
Financial Literacy Month
The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) introduced Youth Financial Literacy Day in 2020 as part of its high school financial planning program. Over time the program evolved into Financial Literacy Month which is now spearheaded by the Jump$tart Coalition.
The Jump$tart Coalition focuses on April to raise awareness about the need for effective financial education and importance of financial literacy as a shared goal and a cooperative mission. Throughout the month partner organizations around the country carry out initiatives and conduct events which are geared towards providing people with the skills and knowledge which will allow them to make informed and effective decisions regarding their finances.
There are 6 main components to financial literacy. They include:
- Understanding your income, regardless of whether it comes from a paycheck, as an independent contractor, as retirement income, etc. You need to assess your gross and net income, your deductions and your fixed expenses (health insurance, retirement plan, etc). Once you’ve calculated your income you can create a budget
- Create a budget. To create a budget you must first track your spending over the course of one month. Then, look at your spending to decide what is necessary (food, mortgage, utilities, etc) and what is “extra.” Your entertainment budget can’t exceed what’s left after you pay the necessary bills.
- Set your goals. What is important to you? Travel? Savings? Retirement? Paying off loans? Everyone has their own financial goals but you have to spell them out to yourself before you can focus on meting them.
- Borrow wisely. Before you borrow (borrowing includes credit), assess whether the money that you want to borrow is something that you want or need. If you are borrowing money to buy a needed car or for a mortgage so that you can own a house, that’s a good reason to borrow. If you’re borrowing money for a luxury item or to take a trip, think twice. If you do set out to borrow money, compare loan terms and make sure that you’re getting the best deal.
- Always maintain a healthy credit score. If you maintain a low APR (Annual Percentage Rate) with a high credit score you can get better loans with lower interest rates. If your credit score is low, you should probably delay taking out a loan until you build up a healthy credit rating again.
- Protect your money. Review your bank accounts and credit card statements on a regular basis so that you can watch out for mistakes or suspicious activity. Use only secure passwords for bank, investments, insurance and other accounts. Don’t share those passwords with anyone else so that you can guard against identity theft and scams.
Things that you should take care of in order to be financially literate include:
- Create a budget
- Have a retirement plan
- Maintain an emergency funds that covers at least 3 months of basic living expenses
- Have a plan to pay off debt
- Know your credit score and have a plan to improve it.
There are many resources available to help you take charge of your financial health. They include both online and offline resources.
Some of the most useful online resources to help you move towards financial responsibility include:
- U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of the Controller of the Currency’s Financial Literacy Resource Directory is a free list of organizations to which you can turn regarding financial policy or literacy education. Some of the topics include Credit Management, Tax Assistance, Youth Programs and Basic Financial Literacy.
- The Practical Skills Program, sponsored by VISA, includes articles about financial literacy education and resources for individuals on topics ranging from best practices to managing a budget to large scale economics. There are free brochures, DVDs and other materials with podcasts and infographics as well as lesson plans to teach students from elementary school age on up. Games, videos and apps provide multimedia educational opportunities.
- Money Management International has created a Financial Literacy Month Toolkit which includes tools for advertising and communicating plus e-books and news articles. The toolkit is available year-round and can be accessed in either English or Spanish.
- The Federal Student Aid Resources was compiled by the U.S. Department of Education with sections about general financial literacy and tools and resouces for students. Users can find information about how to apply for aid, how to comparison shop and how to budget and manage debt. There are also links to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Money Smart financial literacy program and College Navigator.
- National Endowment for Financial Education provides Financial Workshop Kits including one specifically for young adults and college students. The topics cover subjects such as post-graduation finances, budget, identity theft and potential financial pitfalls.
- Feed the Pig provides guidance on how to manage money through setting financial goals and save. There is information about credit cards, student loans and other student-related financial literacy information. Feed the Pig is sponsored by the Advertising Council and the American Institute of CPAs. The Feed the Pig website features podcasts, calculators and links to additional financial resources.
There are many books to help you learn how to make good financial decisions and build financial security. Some of the best include:
- Financial Intelligence by Karen Berman
- Women and Money by Suze Orman
- The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing by Taylor Larimore
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
- Transforming Your Relationship with Money by Joe Dominguez
- Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School? by Cary Siegel
- How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie J. Zelinski