April is designated as Financial Literacy Month. With all that is happening in our economy today, I believe there is not a more important subject that people should spend time learning than about the ins and outs of money. Unfortunately, survey after survey finds that Americans just don’t know the basics of how to manage their financial lives.
Only 21 states, with my home state of Florida just becoming the latest, require some form of personal finance or economics education prior to graduation from high school. The priority we give financial education is far too low. In my view, the lack of money knowledge is also a contributing factor to income inequality in our society.
In observing the personal money outcomes of our society, I see the following written about almost every day:
The small percentage of Americans with a written financial plan
Households without sufficient emergency savings
Low retirement savings with ever lengthening life expectancies
High levels of personal debt, including the impact of student loans
Car loan payments that are hard to make each month and repayment terms that continue to lengthen to seven years or longer
Households not sufficiently insured for life, income protection and for basic risks such as fire and liability
Households without a cash budget or real awareness of where their money is going
The list of reported financial challenges or weaknesses goes on and on. All these reports reflect the fact that most people are not intentionally driving their money matters. They are expecting their financial lives to improve without doing anything different to make that happen. Many people say they are just too busy living life to focus on money matters.
Actions You Can Take in Your Household
So what can you do to improve your financial knowledge and success? I have three simple ideas.
The first action is to gain more knowledge through education and learning. The average American household spends just over 2 minutes per day on money matters. I encourage you to increase this to 17 minutes daily or 2 hours per week. Why spend the time? It will allow you to better manage your financial affairs and move closer to the financial security you desire.
The second action is to educate your household on money matters. Making household members more aware of the family’s key financial practices and challenges helps everyone understand the importance of money matters in daily life.
The last action is probably the most important. That is to walk the talk. You cannot make good money habits important in your household if you do not practice what you preach. If education and learning are important — are you actually spending the time yourself? If being aware of spending is important — do you exhibit behaviors that demonstrate you are carefully managing outflows? If you tell everyone having a cash plan or retirement savings is important — do you have these plans in place? Overall, you must walk the talk.
Improving your personal financial literacy should be one of your most important self-improvement actions. In this everchanging world, how can you be financially responsible if you don’t know the basics of personal finance? It does not matter if you are 18, 38, 58 or 70 years old there is much to learn, improvements to make and actions you can take to improve your relationship with money.
Our lives at all ages come with a whole series of money challenges and decisions for which we should prepare. The team working at the FinancialVerse Organization hope we can contribute to your learning and personal growth. We encourage you to continue to improve your personal financial knowledge and improvement.