CONSIDER THIS: Since 2003, April has been designated “Financial Literacy Month” by the federal government, and for good reason. Although most would agree it’s important for people to learn—and preferably learn early—the life skills that will set them up for financial success, studies consistently indicate Americans are generally not sufficiently educated about their personal finances.
While the demand for financial literacy courses in high school is nationally apparent, the Council for Economic Education says only 17 states require students to take classes in personal finance.
In a survey by the National Financial Educators Council about which high school-level course would have benefited participants the most, 54.1 percent stated a money management class would have been the most useful.
But, it’s never too late to become financial literate. Here are a few tips:
Start right where you are. There is a lot of information to increase personal financial literacy that is appropriate for all ages and levels of wealth. Use age-appropriate activities, including games and challenges to make it fun for kids, and get the whole family better educated about finances.
Find a personal finance app. Using a personal finance app is an easy way to put money management at your fingertips and help you stay on track with your financial plans. There are many no- and low-cost apps available to can teach you how to budget, invest, or pay bills automatically. Check the user reviews to see what aligns best with what you’re looking for in a financial tool.
Take advantage of online resources. The U.S. government sponsors www.mymoney.gov, which is dedicated to teaching the basics about financial education, including topics like buying a home, balancing a checkbook, or investing in a 401(k) plan. The California Department of Financial Institutions offers a number of resources.
Consult your financial institution. Financial institutions, including most credit unions, tend to offer structured financial literacy programs like classes and counseling. Most are free to consumers.