Every April is Financial Literacy Month, the perfect time to focus on gathering and sharing financial knowledge, improving your personal finance skills and spreading the word about good financial habits in your community. Financial literacy — the ability to understand and manage your personal finances effectively — includes everything from budgeting to saving, investing to debt management, understanding credit scores to taxes and much more.
As such an enormous topic, it can be hard to know whether your level of financial literacy is above or below par, let alone the best ways to participate and spread the word. To help, we’ve collected a few easy ways you can observe Financial Literacy Month below:
Test Your Financial Knowledge
Take stock of your financial knowledge and identify the areas in which you could improve. Start by taking a financial literacy quiz, like this one that FINRA offers. After you identify the depth of your knowledge, you can follow up by reading personal finance books, blogs or articles, or by talking to a financial advisor.
Create a Budget
Creating a budget will help you manage your money — you have to know the numbers in your accounts if you’re going to make them grow. At the very least, a budget helps you track your expenses, keeps you from overspending and allows you to set financial goals. It's important to review your budget regularly and adjust according to your needs and lifestyle.
Review Your Credit Report
Your credit report is an important tool that lenders use to determine the types of loans for which you can qualify. Reviewing your credit report regularly helps you identify errors or inaccuracies that could be impacting your credit score — then, you can reach out to the bureau that’s reporting the error so you can clean it off your credit record.
You can obtain a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus or from the Annual Credit Report website.
Start by taking a financial literacy quiz, then follow up by reading personal finance blogs or talking to a financial advisor.
Start Saving for Retirement
It's never too early — or too late — to start saving for retirement. Whether you contribute to a 401(k) or IRA or you want to start contributing to a cash value life insurance policy for the tax advantages, the sooner you start saving, the more you can take advantage of compound interest. If you're not sure where to start, consider talking to a financial advisor.
Pay Off Debts
High levels of debt are a big source of financial stress, as high interest rates and large monthly payments can take a huge bite out of your budget. If you have debts, consider using the avalanche or snowball method as a plan to pay them off, or consolidate your debts into a single loan. Remember to make your payments on time and avoid taking on any new debt in the meantime.
Financial literacy is an important skill for everyone, and the more people are financially healthy, the better. Consider Financial Literacy Month your chance to share your knowledge and start conversations with your family, friends and colleagues. You can also volunteer to teach financial literacy courses at local schools or community centers — you could even get certified by the National Financial Educators Council.
Participate in Financial Literacy Events
Many organizations and communities hold financial literacy events during the month of April. Consider attending one of these events to meet other people interested in financial health, network with financial professionals and learn more about promoting financial literacy in your community.
Consider Financial Literacy Month your chance to share your knowledge and start conversations with your family, friends and colleagues.
Participating in Financial Literacy Month is a great way to improve your financial knowledge and promote good financial habits. By taking steps to improve your personal finance skills, you’re one step closer to helping your neighbor improve theirs — and you’ll reduce stress, achieve your financial goals and improve your financial well-being in the process.
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