If you think of yourself as financially illiterate, you are not alone. Many people struggle with knowing how to manage personal finances, reduce debt, decipher the stock market, and save for retirement. Luckily, today there are many resources at your fingertips to help improve your knowledge about making financial decisions.
Becoming financially literate does not happen overnight, nor is it accomplished by reading just one book. It happens through education, practical experience, and life lessons. Here are the top 10 ways to help improve your financial literacy:
- Start Now
It is never too late to improve your knowledge about financial matters. Increase your knowledge about investing, estate planning, social security, how credit cards work, credit scores, saving for the future, social security, real estate, insurance, retirement, and taxes. Tackle one topic at a time. Start with the one you are most interested in learning and begin to build a solid foundation of financial know-how.
- Use Abundant Resources from the U.S. Government
The U.S. government is making an effort to see that its citizens have more opportunities to learn about personal finances. Congress has even declared April “Financial Literacy Month,” and the private and public sectors offer programs and events around the topic. Check out the following government websites:
Financial Literacy and Education Commission is affiliated with the U.S. Treasury Department, and its mission is to improve financial literacy by coordinating efforts between the public and private sectors. MyMoney.gov is dedicated to teaching the basics about financial education. You can find advice on subjects like buying a home, balancing a checkbook, or investing in a 401(k).
- Read Newspapers and Magazines
Read newspapers and magazines geared toward money matters:
Begin to read the financial section of your local/regional newspaper. Read finance and business newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times. Both provide insight into the domestic and global world of finance and business. The Kiplinger Letter remains the longest continually published newsletter in the United States. In 1947 Kiplinger’s created the nation’s first personal finance magazine. Additional magazines to check out are Barron’s, Fortune, Forbes, and Money.
- Search the Internet
There are many online resources to increase your financial literacy. Many of the cable news networks have websites with a finance tab. Some educational resources provide tutorials that can cover single topics.
- Take a Financial Literacy Class
Take a class at an adult education center, or junior or four-year college, on subjects that will help you learn how to manage your finances. If you prefer to stay at home, take a course through an online college. There are also a multitude of self-help books and workbooks that teach finance and personal money management.
- Listen to Talk Radio
There are many syndicated (and locally based) radio talk shows that offer financial advice. Learn from callers’ questions and financial dilemmas. However, be aware that some radio shows are actually infomercials promoting services or products. Always double check (and triple check) any financial advice being offered.
- Purchase Financial Tools
Buy a financial calculator from HP, Texas Instruments, Casio, or Canon. A financial calculator performs functions such as calculating loan payments, interest rates, percentages, amortization schedules, and cash flow. They also solve time-value-of-money calculations such as annuities, mortgages, leases, and savings.