Now is the time to sharpen your financial acumen. April is National Financial Literacy Month.
This month-long focus on money is an effort to help Americans of all ages understand the importance of handling money wisely and giving them the skills to do so.
Why is this important? Many Americans are heading towards financial crisis. About 40 percent of U.S. adults do not have the funds to cover an emergency expense of $400 or more. Many Americans do not have enough money to support themselves in retirement. For most of us, there will not be a generous company pension. Social Security benefits will not cover all our expenses. It is not designed to be our sole source of retirement income.
While there are plenty of Americans who can and do set money aside each month, there is a large percentage of adults at every age who have less than $1,000 in savings. A recent survey by GoBankingRates.com found a lack of money keeps people from saving. They are not making enough and are struggling to keep up with basic expenses.
The adage says, to have more money you need to “either increase your income or decrease your expenses – or both.” Other than taking on second and third jobs, do people know how to do this?
This is where financial literacy comes in. When people understand the impact of the financial decisions they make, perhaps they would make educated choices that would help them be more financially secure.
Many people don’t understand:
- The true cost of interest on auto loans, mortgages, and other loans. (Is it too easy see the shiny thing they want, and focus on monthly payment amounts or the maximum the lender is willing to loan – and not pay attention to what is realistically affordable?)
- The impact an expensive mortgage has on monthly retirement income, including social security.
- How much interest they really pay when they don’t pay their credit card bill in full each month.
- How many years it will take to pay-off parent loans for their children’s education, and whether they will be able to make the payments once retired.
- The impact of using money that could be designated for savings to support their adult children. (Are their children going to support them when they run out of money?)
It is never too late to improve money skills. One of the best resources is personal finance magazines. When hard copies arrive in your mail each month, it is an easy reminder to pay attention to your finances. Both Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and Money Magazine have easy-to-understand educational articles:
Online, you can find resources by searching on “Financial Literacy 2019.” Pay attention to the source of the information. Two of my favorites are:
- Money Management International (moneymanagement.org)
- MoneyTips 10 Commandments of Personal Finance (moneytips.com)
Meanwhile, you can test your financial literacy at the National Financial Capability Study (usfinancialcapability.org).
This blog is published to provide you with general information only, and is not intended to provide specific or comprehensive advice. Money Care, LLC encourages individuals to seek advice from competent professionals when appropriate.