With April and another tax season behind us, you may be breathing a sigh of relief and looking forward to not thinking about your finances for a while.
Not so fast! Did you know that April was also National Financial Literacy Month? Now that it’s May, does that mean we’re all off the hook and we can drop it?
Back in the early 200s, the Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy—and then later Congress – officially declared April as Financial Literacy Youth Month back. Since then, the “youth” has been dropped and the month has come to be known as not only “tax season” but National Literacy Month.
But no matter what the age or month it happens to be, becoming more financially literate financial is important 365 days a year. A 2012 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey found that Americans still lack basic money skills, despite the effects and supposed lessons learned of the 2008 recession.
Some findings include:
Over half of the 1,007 participants did not have a household budget
39 percent of Americans carried a credit card debt monthly
59 percent of adults say they have savings-- while that may seem like a high number, that’s a 5 percent decrease from the prior year
55 percent of Americans considered it acceptable to default on a mortgage if they could no longer afford the monthly payment, compared to 49 percent in 2011 and 46 percent in 2010.
So where to begin? Here are some quick ideas on how to commemorate National Financial Literacy month and continue to educate yourself and your family about money:
Since the original idea for the month focused on “youth,” I decided to teach my kids one financial idea every night during dinner. It’s quick and easy, and despite the eye rolls I sometimes get, I think the kids now look forward to it—almost as a mini-tradition. Last night, I simply asked them if they knew what a mortgage was. Thankfully, my 9th grader did, but one of my other kids said, “I don’t know what it is but I’m pretty sure it’s bad!” Another night I did a 60-second explanation of social security using their grandparents as an example (note: make sure to keep it light and quick—otherwise your plans to teach them may backfire and they’ll tune out!)
Now focus on you. Commit to completing one financial “task” every day for the next thirty days (with a special day off on Mother’s Day). Great ideas can be found at http://www.financialliteracymonth.com/About.aspx.
A few years ago, New York Times columnist Ron Lieber wrote a useful article on taking a “Financial Health Day” and checking off a few important money matters. That’s also a great place to start to get some ideas of what you can do to jumpstart your knowledge and long-term planning. http://nyti.ms/1khuZja
Join me for a free class! I will be offering a special teleclass on Friday, May 9th at 1:00EST called “The Money Cleanse.” We’ll be focusing on how to worry less and take action more when it comes to money, with tips and strategies on managing your day-to-day finances with ease. You can register using this link: http://bit.ly/1foCyYq
Here’s to financial literacy— not just in April but all year long!
As always, if you have any questions, please email me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear about your progress!
~ Jennifer S. Faherty, owner of Redbird Partners, is a career strategist, life and money coach, writer, speaker and teacher. She earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.A. from Columbia University and is a Certified MARTHA BECK LIFE COACH, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.