Financial literacy is the ability to understand and use financial skills, including responsible money management, budgeting, saving and investing for the future. Let’s take a deeper look at Financial Literacy Month along with some ways to become more financially literate for managing our money responsibly all year long.
The history of Financial Literacy Month
In the year 2000, the Jump$tart Coalition began promoting April as the Financial Literacy for Youth Month. In 2003, the United States Senate designated April as Financial Literacy for Youth Month, which was soon shortened to simply Financial Literacy Month.
The following year, President George W. Bush declared April as National Financial Literacy Month. Since then, Financial Literacy Month has been observed annually, with various organizations and institutions offering financial education resources and events to help individuals improve their financial literacy skills. The overarching goal of Financial Literacy Month is to empower people to take control of their finances, make informed financial decisions and achieve greater financial wellbeing.
Why is financial literacy important?
Financial literacy is a key component of financial wellness. Consider these facts:
- Personal finance is the number one topic of argument within a marriage.
- Parents rank teaching financial responsibility to their children near the top of their parenting wish list.
- Only a handful of states require high school students to take a personal finance course before graduation.
- Poor financial literacy leads to poor decision-making, which leads to poor behavior and therefore limits the household’s ability to reach its financial goals.
Arming yourself with financial literacy is a crucial part of responsible money management and a financially fit life.
How financial literacy month is observed
During Financial Literacy Month, financial institutions, nonprofits, and human service agencies increase their focus on the importance of financial literacy through events, programs and counseling. The goal goes beyond helping consumers learn more about finances by helping them actually improve their personal and household financial stability and success. Find out which programs and events are available to you so you can take advantage of these opportunities.
First, you can reach out to your state’s department of finance, banking or consumer affairs. This entity is responsible for regulating banking institutions in each state. Ask about possible programs for Financial Literacy Month. You can find a full list of these state departments here.
Next, ask a member service representative at about the financial literacy events they have planned for the month of April. Most financial institutions will offer lectures, counseling, reading materials on financial literacy or other means of broadening financial knowledge throughout the month. At Scott Credit Union, we will be hosting our Budgeting Buddies Workshop on April 17th prior to the St. Louis Cardinal’s baseball game. To register click here!
If you have children in grade school, high school or college, or if you yourself are in school, find out what kind of financial literacy programs your school is offering this month. Many educational institutions will feature extra classes and workshops by economics and consumer science teachers during Financial Literacy Month.
Finally, check out your local library to see what it has planned for Financial Literacy Month. Many libraries offer activities, lectures and workshops on financial topics, like debt and credit management, to promote financial education during the month of April.
How to observe Financial Literacy Month at home
Though you can access a variety of financial programs and lectures this month, you can also find ways to observe Financial Literacy Month at home:
- Make financial literacy the topic of your book club this month. Choose a book that’s related to money to talk about at your virtual or in-person book club. You can choose a classic like The Millionaire Next Door, Rich Dad Poor Dad, or a newer bestseller like I Will Teach You to be Rich.
- Research one personal finance question each day. Have you always wondered which of the two popular debt-crushing methods (avalanche and snowball) is used more often? Do you know the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA? Look up the answer to one personal finance question like these each day of April. By the end of the month, you’ll have amassed a considerable amount of financial knowledge.
- Start reading a financial blog. There’s no shortage of blogs that explore financial topics. Browse through the most popular to find the one that best speaks your language. Some choice financial blogs include The Penny Hoarder, Money Crashers, Money Under 30, and of course, Scott Credit Union’s Right on the Money.
- Commit to a new financial goal. Financial literacy is all about using your knowledge to make better financial decisions. Use the opportunity of this month to commit to one financial goal in an area you find challenging. For example, you can resolve to create a monthly budget and stick to it. You can work on building up an emergency fund. Or, you can finally take the plunge and start investing. Choose one goal, and work at it until you’ve achieved it.
Financial literacy is a crucial skill for maintaining financial wellness through every stage of life. Take advantage of the opportunities available and create your own learning experiences to broaden your financial literacy this month. By expanding your financial knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to make responsible money decisions throughout the year.
Your Turn: How will you observe Financial Literacy Month? Tell us about it in the comments.