April is National Financial Literacy Month. What began with the National Endowment for Financial Education as Youth Financial Literacy Day in 2000, has evolved into a month-long observance for people of all ages to learn about and improve their finances.
Financial literacy is critical for understanding how to save, earn, borrow, invest, and protect your money wisely. It’s also essential for developing short and long-term financial habits and skills that lead to overall well-being. However, a recent study conducted by the U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission found that only one-third of adults could answer at least four of five financial literacy questions on fundamental concepts such as mortgages, interest rates, inflation and risk.
Why is this important? As the study notes, financial education is the key to unlocking the foundations of economic opportunity. Doing so requires a working knowledge of basic financial concepts and the motivation to learn more as your finances become more complex over time. But where do you start, and how do you make the time on top of your other obligations and responsibilities?
Hit the books (and videos, blogs and podcasts)
There’s no shortage of information on managing your finances, from books on topics from managing debt and building good credit, to saving for retirement and planning your legacy. One I’m happy to shamelessly plug (because it really is that good) was authored by my colleague Jamie Hopkins, where he tackles common misconceptions, assumptions, and behavioral biases that often prevent people from building robust and flexible retirement plans. In his book, Rewirement: Rewiring The Way You Think About Retirement!, Hopkins notes that financial literacy is a substantial hurdle holding people back from a more secure retirement. In his words, “The lack of understanding about the ways finances change in retirement, combined with a sense of overconfidence based on years of successful saving leading up to retirement, spell trouble with a capital T.”
In addition to books, there’s also no shortage of videos, blogs, podcasts, webinars and websites providing material you can consume on your schedule from your desktop to your mobile devices. However, sorting through all the information (and misinformation) available on the internet can be daunting. You want to make sure the information you’re consuming is from sources providing objective and unbiased information and guidance.
MORE FOR YOU
Below are six resources worth checking out, whether you’re looking to brush up on a single topic, or improve your financial knowledge across multiple areas:
- Finance at Khan Academy offers short and engaging videos on just about any financial or economic topic you can think of for free.
- If you’re interested in taking an online course, Study.com lists a number of free online courses on their website, including non-credit financial education courses from institutions of higher education, including Utah State, Yale, Purdue, MIT, and more.
- Investopedia is a good resource whether you’re seeking to increase your knowledge of basic investing terms, such as asset allocation and diversification, or want to delve into more complex topics, like how to measure a stocks’ intrinsic value. They even offer investing tutorials to help users understand key terms and concepts.
- MyMoney.gov is the federal government’s website that serves as the one-stop shop for federal financial literacy and education programs, grants and other information. MyMoney.gov is available in English and Spanish and offers a broad range of articles, consumer guides, calculators, worksheets and checklists across a wide range of money management topics.
- Don’t forget about your employer. In addition to offering retirement plan education tools and resources, an increasing number of companies and organizations offer financial wellness programs. These programs generally include educational materials and resources on topics such as managing debt, building emergency savings, applying for a mortgage loan, college planning, and more. Many also offer access to financial counseling and coaching.
- Finally, consider working with a financial coach or independent wealth advisor. An experienced financial advisor can answer your questions, whether you’re seeking information on day-to-day money management issues, or advice on complex issues involving your business or personal finances and investments.
No matter how you choose to access information, improving financial literacy should be a lifelong endeavor. Remember, empowerment in any discipline is rooted in knowledge and understanding. The more you understand about your finances, the better the decisions you will make at every stage of life.
To get started on your quest for knowledge, visit us at Carson Wealth, where you will find a broad array of insightful resources and tools, including our educational blog, videos, eBooks, calculators, quizzes, and more.