From National Bike Month (May) to National Honey Month (September), there are a lot of themed months you’ve probably never heard of before, but April brings one focus that’s certainly worth extra attention: Financial Literacy Month. We happen to think it’s a month worth celebrating.
Many people want to learn how to get their personal finances together but just aren’t sure how to begin. The truth is that you don’t have to be a financial wizard to learn how to handle your money. Financial literacy is essentially getting a better grip on where your hard-earned money ends up and what it’s doing. Here’s how to get started on the path to financial education.
Track your money
Understanding where you spend your money is a great first step in getting your finances together. Gallup estimates that two-thirds of Americans don’t have a household budget. Tracking expenditures may seem obvious, but many people have only a loose understanding of how they spend their income.
Debt is a fact of life in most American households, often creating financial pressure when the debts grow beyond mortgages and car loans. A key part of financial literacy is developing an understanding of how debt affects you and what you can do to manage it.
Step up savings
Any vow to get your personal finances in order requires a close look at savings. Some people view saving as an afterthought – something you do with any money you happen to have left at the end of the month. Increase your knowledge of saving, and you’ll learn why this isn’t the smartest mindset.
“Saving money: 5 tips for savvier saving” offers a good foundation. For a closer look at one important aspect of saving, see “Ready for a rainy day: Create an emergency fund for unexpected expenses.”
Planning for your goals
When it comes to preparing for retirement or even a dream vacation, you can’t simply hope things will work out. You need to accurately estimate future expenses and develop a realistic plan for saving toward them. Financial education will help you determine the best strategy for your situation.
Learn more about retirement, no matter what stage of life you’re in with, “Time is on your side: Build retirement savings, no matter your age.” For more on financial goals as a whole, see “9 resources to help you achieve your financial goals.”
Take the first step
Financial Literacy Month is all about helping people better understand their money, and as a result, helping people better manage their money. With some dedication, you can have a comprehensive picture of where your money is, where it’s going, and where it should be going. These resources are a great first step.
What’s the biggest “ah-ha!” moment you’ve had when reviewing your own finances? Share your comments below.
SAC FCU offers its own extensive lineup of financial literacy training tools via Financial Avenue. Access a full lineup of lessons, tools, articles, and videos. Topics include budgeting, understanding contracts, maximizing insurance, and saving for college. All of the information is presented in simple terms that help you quickly understand how to make the most of your finances.
Download SAC FCU’s Financial Basics Made Easy e-book to help boost your own financial literacy.