Four Basic Principles of Financial Literacy

Basic principles of financial literacy

Four Basic Principles of Financial Literacy

The key to financial literacy is to gain wealth, keep it and use it to improve your life. It really is that simple. Of course, following through with those plans can be challenging in real life, but following that plan will set you on the path of financial independence and wellness.

1. Acquiring Money

 

When we think of earning money, many people think about earning money from a job as the best or quickest way of acquiring money. But trading time for money is only one of many ways to acquire money. Here is a list of ways you can acquire money listed in priority order:

1. Investing

Far too little time is spent on investing to acquire money. That may be due to the many different and, at times, complex methods of investing. But investing does not need to be complicated. And since investing doesn’t require you to trade time for money, it has the added benefit of being able to help you acquire money even when you sleep.  

If you are unsure about how to start investing, the first thing you need to do is:

  1. Make sure you are living off less than you are making. That will ensure you have the funds to invest.
  2. Make sure you are seeking information and using trusted advisors. Investing requires some knowledge. Seek out the answers you need, don’t let the lack of information be a hurtle. 
  3. Do it now. Investing requires taking on some risk, but the only way to overcome the risk is to invest for the long term. Short-term investing has the most significant risks. The more time you can allow your investments to grow, the more you minimize your overall risk.
A market trend

2. Earning

Most folks are aware of earning. So it isn’t necessary to dive too deep into this concept. However, the one thing I do want to make sure you are aware of is that there are methods of earning money that does not trade time for money. For example, developing an online course that is recorded once and shown repeatedly can make you money, yet you do not need to show up every time your students sign up. It is an important point to note since your time is a limited resource, and finding ways to earn money that does not require additional time is one way to maximize your earnings.

3. Borrowing

Some may argue that borrowing should not be on this list, but what happens when you borrow money? You get money. Yes, you have to pay it back, but that doesn’t negate the fact that you now have money you didn’t have before. 

Borrowing money can be a tricky skill to master. While some financial experts out there will warn you against ever borrowing money, most folks recognize that borrowing is an essential part of reaching your financial goals. For example, if you dream of owning a home, unless you live in the 1950s, saving up the total value of a home may be challenging without using some debt.

The best rule to follow when borrowing is to remember the money you borrow should put you in a better position to pay the money back. So borrowing to start a business or get your education to become more employable is more advisable than borrowing to pay for consumables like clothing or food.

An insurance policy

2. Keeping Your Money Safe

 

There is little value in having money that someone could wipe out from underneath you. Therefore, to maximize the value of your wealth, you must ensure you keep it safe and protected.   There are two essential methods to achieve this.

1. Keep Your Money in a Bank. Many people do not feel comfortable with the banking system. But banking, rather than going 100% cashless, tends to be a cheaper option. Keeping your money in a bank also provides security to your funds. You do not need to worry about someone accessing your savings since banks are secured and insured.

2. Insure Your Wealth. Home insurance, car insurance, and life insurance are all ways to ensure that you could be made whole if the unforced were to happen.

Budgeting money

3. Planning

Fail to plan and plan to fail. It is a cliche, but it is so true.  

Without a plan to reach your financial goals, you will likely take longer to get there or not get there at all.

Using a budget is a fantastic way to help you plan out your expenses to ensure you stay on track financially.

Additionally, have a plan for when you hope to reach your financial goals. Working and putting money in the bank is no way to plan for retirement. Instead, have a goal in mind and work backward to find out how to reach what you desire. Speak with a financial planner if you need to, but have a plan in place.

A woman buying at a clothing store

4. Using Money

 

You wouldn’t think anyone would need to be told how to use their money, but how you use it will determine how and when you reach your financial goals. It is one thing to have a budget, but it is a different thing to live within it. 

Lastly, all the money in the world will not make you happy if you feel like you still want more. Therefore, we must learn how to live in peace with what we have. While this isn’t exactly using money, this is the power of not using your money.  

To reach financial well-being, you will need to practice some financial restraint. Your desires will grow as your income grow unless you can appreciate what you have and be able to identify when and what is enough. It is only in being able to master this that you will be able to ensure your wealth has the potential to grow.

Conclusion

In conclusion, financial literacy is an important skill to have to manage your money effectively. By following the four basic principles of financial literacy, you can set yourself up for success in your financial journey. Remember to acquire money wisely, protect what you have, spend cautiously, and plan for the future. With these tools, you can take control of your finances and achieve your financial goals.

The Foundation of Personal Finance and Why I Had It All Wrong

The foundation of personal finance

The Foundation of Personal Finance and Why I Had It All Wrong

 

Ask anyone in the financial world what the first foundation of personal finance is, and they will say pay yourself first. This phrase came from the best book on financial literacy, the bible of personal finance, The Richest Man in Babylon. That lesson has been preached over and over again since the 1920s. I have even said it several times. 

But I’m here to tell you I was wrong…

How Our Stories Can Impact Our Lives

 

Let’s say a person grows up in a family where money is tight. Let’s call this person Susie. One day Susie’s parents sit her down and tell her that they have lost their job. She can see the stress and anxiety on her parent’s faces as they tell her things will be changing. They tell her the family will need to tighten their budget to get through the next little while. 

Since Susie is still young, she doesn’t get the whole story. However, she knows that before this moment, she has never worried about money, but now it is all she can think about.

Susie has equated “tight budgets” as “we don’t have enough money.” But, she also knows that before a money problem existed, she and her family were happy. So she keeps telling herself the same money story as she grows up. “Not enough money leads to unhappiness.” 

As an adult, Susie feels like she must keep every penny she earns. She refuses to invest since that’s too risky, and she needs to keep her money accessible if she loses her job. A general feeling of scarcity has set in; that is how she manages her finances, believing there will never be enough. 

Susie misses out on investment opportunities, which delays reaching her home ownership and retirement goals. She works extra hard but never feels like she will have enough, making her feel dissatisfied at work.

She refuses to leave a toxic job environment because she values the security of her paycheck more than her happiness.

Her relationships also suffer since her partner lives out a very different money story—one of an abundance mindset. So Susie sees her partner as a frivolous spender, and her partner sees her as stingy and overly cautious.

How we interpret and act on our stories has enormous consequences on our lives. 

A couple in an argument

Before We Can Start to Say Pay Ourselves First

 

Before we can start to say pay ourselves first, we should say, what happened when I first got paid?

When I was younger, I was a saver. Seeing my bank account shoot up and up was a joy. To this day, I still tend to want to hold on to every cent I make. My experiences with debt in my twenties, and the shame I felt because of it, are why I can feel my anxiety rising when I have budgeting conversations. However, being aware of these feelings helps me to manage them. I won’t pretend I’ve mastered them, but I’m working on it.  

Paying “attention to” yourself first.

Some real talk for a minute. If it were as easy as most experts make it out to be to “pay yourself first” or “just spend less than you make,” then we wouldn’t need experts at all.

Paying yourself first is not wrong. In fact, it is sound advice that you should heed. If you follow that advice, you will spend less than you earn, save a substantial amount, take advantage of compound interest and hopefully be able to invest for a long-term goal. But let’s be honest, changing our habits or patterns isn’t easy. And since many of us are not living on less than we make, we must first figure out why we are not before we figure out how we can.

So, while paying yourself first is in no way the first foundation of personal finance. But it may be a very close runner-up.

A man with a five dollar bill

What Is the First Foundation of Personal Finance?

 

There is a reason “personal” comes before “finance.” Before we can pay ourselves, we must get a handle on how we feel about our money. What are the money stories you are telling yourself? And how are they affecting what you do with your money?

The foundation of personal finance is to understand your money stories. 

Understanding your financial stories and believing you have enough and you are enough will help you manage your desire to spend, much more than saying “pay yourself first.” It will help you understand what is motivating you or holding you back. 

Only with a clear understanding of how you feel, will you be able to move forward and grow.

There are so many things we tell ourselves about our money, but until we come to terms with our money stories, we will never be able to get a healthy handle on our money. That is a critical step in achieving financial wellness. It is the only way we can not only hear what we should be doing with our money but actually do it.

11 Shocking Statistics about Financial Literacy

Statistics about financial literacy

11 Shocking Statistics About Financial Literacy You Won't Believe

We often hear that financial literacy is essential. But just how important is it? Well, here are eleven statistics that help to show how vital financial literacy is.

3 in 5 people are living paycheck to paycheck.

 

For many Americans, living paycheck to paycheck has become the new normal. Unfortunately, this stat is trending upwards. Even more surprising is that it is trending up for people making over $100,000 a year.

Stagnant wages, lifestyle creep, and the rising cost of living make it difficult for many families to make ends meet. 

The financial insecurity caused by living paycheck to paycheck can seriously affect one’s physical and mental health and well-being. 

Sources: Lending Club Corporation & pymnts.com

Hundred dollar bills

47% of Americans can’t handle an unexpected $500 expense without worry.

 

The average American doesn’t have a lot of money saved up. Unexpected expenses happen all the time. A broken down car, a medical bill, or even losing your job can all lead to financial ruin when unprepared.

Without a rainy day fund, Americans rely on credit cards or loans to get by. Unfortunately, this can quickly become a cycle of debt that’s hard to break free from.

Sources: Personal Capital, Federal Reserve Board Publication, and Bankrate

The average annual cost of tuition at a public 4-year college has increased 747.8% since 1963.

 

The cost of higher education across the country continues to trend upwards. 

For many students and families, taking out loans is the only way to cover the rising costs of tuition. However, with the costs rising so rapidly, this may lead to a massive debt burden that can postpone reaching financial goals like buying a home, starting a family, or achieving financial impedance.

Sources: Education Data Initiative, NBC News, and Forbes

Bank of America ATM machine

60 million Americans are unbanked or underbanked.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), approximately 60 Million Americans are unbanked or underbanked. Unbanked refers to people who do not have a checking or savings account. Underbanked means folks may have a banking account but also rely on alternative financial services. 

Being unbanked or underbanked is a very costly way to manage your money. These Americans have a more challenging time saving and planning for emergencies. In addition, they typically have less access to credit. As a result, they can spend thousands of dollars over their lives in fees and interest just to access and manage their money. 

Sources: FDIC and Forbes

4 out of 5 (81%) of Americans think parents should be teaching their children about money, but  almost a third (28%) never talk to their kids about money or only talk about it once a month or less.

 

Kids need to know how to manage money to be successful adults. If they don’t learn how to save, budget, and make wise financial decisions while young, they may struggle when they are out on their own.

Money conversations can teach kids important life lessons like delayed gratification, the value of work, and how to be grateful for what they want rather than seeking more. These are all skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Sources: Money Confident Kids and CNBC

Hands of a retired man

1 in 3 (37%) working Americans are not saving for retirement and more than half (56%) of Americans don’t believe they will have enough saved for retirement.

 

Many Americans are not on track to have a comfortable retirement or to retire at all.

While working longer may work for some, depending on their expertise and health, working longer may not be an option.  

The ramifications of this are many and severe. Not having enough for retirement could mean downsizing and losing access to your community. It can also lead to feeling financially insecure or depending on your loved ones to support you while potentially leaving behind debt for your descendants. 

Sources: Anytime Estimate and CNBC

Almost half (49%) of Americans depend on credit cards to cover essential living expenses.

For far too many Americans, credit cards are now how they make ends meet at the end of the month.

Depending on credit card debt to manage necessities can be stressful and expensive. In addition, if folks carry their credit balances forward month after month, their interest fees may quickly make it hard to pay off what they owe.

A high debt load can set you back financially as it can negatively impact your credit score, make it hard for you to save, and add more bills to your budget.

Source: Inside 1031

A woman stressing over inflation

Inflation is the number 1 cause of stress.

Inflation makes life harder for everyone. Pushing the cost of living higher while wages struggle to keep. Inflation chips away at our buying power. So it should be no surprise that this is stressing people out.

Worries over the loss of income and supply chain were also high among the causes of stress.

Sources: American Psychological Association and Healthline

Only 54% of Americans have a will.

 

The state gets to decide how to distribute your assets if you don’t have a will. While you may be gone, it is unlikely that your wishes for your money will be known or honored if you do not have a will. 

This is even more important if you have dependents. Your will is where you appoint guardians for your children in the event of your death. Without a will, it will be a court that gets to decide.  

Your will is how you can provide long-term financial security for your loved ones and ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

Sources: Gallup and CNBC

Signing a will

75 percent of Americans are winging it when it comes to their financial future.

Financial plans are critical because they establish financial goals and a path to reach them. When people “wing it” with their money, they will find they are less able to manage their resources effectively or prepare for emergencies. Planning can also relieve the stress and anxiety people feel toward their money.

Source: CNBC

Less than half (46%) of states require students to take a personal finance to graduate high school.

Far too many American students graduate from high school and college without a basic understanding of personal finance. As a result, many of these young adults lack the skills or the confidence to manage their finances. This can lead to poor financial decision-making and a lifetime of financial insecurity.

Personal finance classes can help develop good money habits early on. 

Source: Council for Economic Education

Statistics on Financial Literacy: Final Thoughts

 

The statistics on financial literacy can be shocking, but hopefully they urge you to educate yourself.  Learning more about financial literacy is a great way to take away any stress and anxiety. Establish financial goals and start working towards them.

Is Financial Literacy Required in School?

Is Financial Literacy Required in School

Is Financial Literacy Required in School?

Is financial literacy taught in schools?

While many states in recent years have started to mandate some financial literacy in schools, on average, most elementary and high schools across the United States do not teach an adequate amount of financial literacy. In addition, most colleges and universities also drop the ball when preparing their students to manage their finances.

But should financial literacy be taught in schools? How much is an adequate amount? Are students ready to learn these skills, and what do we do to address the gaps?

Why Is Financial Literacy Important for Youth?

 

My book Your Kids, Their Money relays a story about Allison Ball, the Kentucky State Treasurer, speaking to a group of high school students about managing credit. While talking to the group, she noticed the students giving her “quizzical looks.” She later realized that not one student in the group knew what she was talking about when she mentioned “interest.”  

We need to ensure young people have a basic level of financial literacy before they become adults. I often talk about my struggles as a young adult because I lacked an understanding of credit and debt. That lead me to make disastrous decisions with my money, and this isn’t surprising. Research has shown that financially literate people:

  • Make more informed financial decisions.
  • Maximize their earning potential
  • More capable of managing financial emergencies
  • Accumulate more wealth. 
  • Maintain less debt
  • Obtain their financial goals
  • Take advantage of the compounding of returns and interest over time.
  • More likely to reach a state of mental and financial 
Students raising their hands in front of their teacher

It is never too early to start teaching children about financial literacy. Teaching kids about money and how to handle it responsibly is one of the most important things we can do for their future. I would argue that kids need to be taught early on the importance of saving money, budgeting, and making smart financial decisions.

 

Since they don’t get this information from school, if they don’t learn these things at home, they may never fully understand them, and as we saw in my case, that could lead to serious financial trouble down the road.

Can Financial Literacy be Taught in Schools?

 

Yes, 100 times yes. I miss the days of home economics. My home-ec. taught budgeting, career development, and how to be thrifty. Definitely not all of the principles of financial literacy, but a helpful start, to be sure.  

Unfortunately, many school curriculums have removed the concept of learning how to manage a home or a budget. Now what most children get in terms of financial literacy are basic money identification lessons and money math. This is not sufficient. 

A study by The National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that students who took a personal finance class scored higher on tests measuring financial literacy than those who did not take a class. But, like any skill taking one class is not sufficient to learn it to its fullest. Also, considering that children learn at different paces, starting the learning early is critical. Children must repeatedly hear and learn about these concepts to ensure they are understood. We also need to ensure we expand on these financial literacy ideas as children mature.

Saving Money as Part of Financial Literacy

Learning about financial literacy is no different than learning other skills. And with informed and engaged teachers, there is no reason to think they can not teach financial literacy in all classrooms at all levels. Of course, many nuances to teaching children of different ages and abilities. But the basic concepts like living on less than you earn, protecting your wealth, and understanding taxes are more than learnable. 

Teaching kids about money isn’t always easy, but it is worth the effort. If financial literacy were required in schools, the value to the child and society would far outpace the program’s cost. Moreover, I think the value to the student would outweigh many subjects mandated in the classroom.

Are Schools Teaching the Next Generation Enough about Money and Finances?

Many states and school boards have started to include financial literacy in their curriculums. But even with these new mandates, many students are in areas without a mandated financial literacy curriculum.

And even when school boards do mandate financial literacy, there are challenges. Many states are not supplying enough course time, funding, or materials to adequately prepare students. While I agree some is better than none, I think we need to do better.  

As the Academic Director of the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center at George Washington University, noted. “We see states that don’t require the student to pass the course, or they don’t train the teachers, or it’s an unfunded mandate.”

That is why an AIG report found that only 40% of students who graduated from high school within states with a mandatory personal finance class reported having taken the course.

Currently, the number of school boards that fully support teachers in giving adequate financial literacy training to prepare the next generation is still far too low.

Graduating Students Tossing their Caps Up in the Air

What Can be Done to Make Up the Gap?

 

Since most schools still do not require financial literacy classes, we, as parents and guardians, must ensure that our students don’t fall behind. In most cases, it is up to us to help fill this need and find resources outside of schooling to support their students.

That means teaching them how to handle money, save it, spend it wisely, and make it work for them. There are several ways to do this, including books, apps, and games. You can also start giving your children allowances early, so they learn how to manage their money.

Most importantly, you can prioritize talking about money and money matters with the youth in your life. Money is still too often seen as a taboo subject. People can feel uncomfortable talking about it. We need to talk about money openly and honestly with our kids to ensure they learn what they should and should do and how to have a healthy relationship with money. That can only happen if we are transparent about our finances.

Financial Literacy: The Key to a Successful Future

 

While financial literacy is not always required in school, we can see the many benefits of teaching it to our children. Financially literate students are more likely to make responsible financial decisions and achieve long-term financial stability as adults. As a result, educators need to consider incorporating financial literacy into their curricula. But until they do, it will be up to the parents and guardians to ensure the youth in our lives are getting an adequate financial literacy education to prepare them for their futures.

Financial Literacy for Black Youth, Why It Matters

The Need for Financial Literacy for Black Youth

Why We Need to Focus on Financial Literacy for Black Youth

This post contains affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read full policy here.

The I Am King Conference organizers invited me to speak about financial literacy for Black youth this past winter. This conference’s goal was to “identify, understand, minimize and eliminate the marginalization experienced by Black male students in our schools.”

It was one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. The conference was terrific, and the workshops I presented were something I wish I could have attended when I was a child. Speaking directly to the next generation about the importance of building wealth and managing their finances, I hope, was as helpful to them as it was rewarding to me. 

But this leads to an important question. Is there a difference between financial literacy for back children versus everyone else?

Financial Literacy Is Universal

 

Regardless of your color, creed, or religion, if you live in a capitalist society, the fundamentals of financial literacy apply to you. When used, they can help you reach a state of both mental and financial wellness. In this state you can pay your bills, have money in case of an emergency, and you are also on your way to reaching your long-term financial goals.

Where things differ is when it comes to some of the additional hurdles that minorities may have to face to reach those objectives.

White and Black Youth Having a Discussion

The Racial Wealth Gap Explained

 

A wealth gap is a considerable inequity in the distribution of assets between two or more groups. Multiple wealth gaps have formed in most industrialized nations. Wealth gaps between men and women, young and old, and white and Black families have grown significantly in the United States over the last few generations. A wealth gap can be caused by many factors, including gender bias, racial discrimination, and inequitable education policies, to name a few. 

In the United States, there is a significant racial wealth gap. The median non-Hispanic white household had nearly ten times the net worth of the median Black household in 2016, according to a report from the Institute for Policy Studies. That means that, on average, a white family has roughly $171,000 in net worth, while a Black family has just $17,600.

There are many reasons for this disparity. White families have typically benefited from centuries of policies that have granted them advantages over people of color. Beyond slavery and Jim Crow laws, Black people were disadvantaged in housing and other social policies.

The GI Bill is an example of U.S. policy that aided white wealth creation but disadvantaged Black wealth creation. The GI Bill provided money for college education, housing, and unemployment insurance to WWII white veterans, but those benefits were mostly unobtainable to Black veterans. This bill was a boon to most white families and set them on a path of wealth creation. However, with the addition of policies like redlining and limited credit, Black families were often prevented from buying homes, which is the number one method of wealth creation. This situation was made even worse in some cases when the wealth Blacks could create was decimated when they turned to corrupt and unscrupulous rent-to-own scheme (also known as buying on contract). These schemes often left Black families without a home or their capital.  

The racial wealth gap has expanded even further in recent years due partly to the tough-on-crime and drug policies of the 1980s. The disparities continue today, with a significant portion of the Black population incarcerated at disproportionate rates compared to their white counterparts. Today, the wealth gap continues to grow as Blacks fall behind in home ownership, education, and employment opportunities.

Financial Literacy Is Part of the Solution

 

With so many historical and systematic disadvantages, it is hard to see a path forward. However, one factor that can help combat the inequity that has created the racial wealth gap, is to increase financial literacy among people of color. Unfortunately, due to the education system’s lack of focus on practical life skills, many minorities do not have an opportunity to learn how to manage their money, build assets over time, or build wealth in their communities.

While financial literacy is not a silver bullet that will solve the racial wealth gap, it can help slow the widening gap. Financial literacy can help young people learn how to manage their money and make informed financial decisions. Learning these skills is critical since research shows that financially literate people are more likely to save money and invest in assets, leading to more significant wealth accumulation. In addition, providing financial education for our Black youth is crucial since wealth creation is a long-term process. Creating wealth requires maximizing your earning power, making wise spending decisions, and taking advantage of the compounding of returns and interest over time.

Black Youth Building a Plan

Books About Money for Black Youth

Any money book for kids could be a great start, but why not try to have your kids reflected in the characters that they see?  Here is a wonderful list of money books for kids with black representation.

Financial Literacy Activities for Youth

While I love and encourage reading since I think it is one of the best ways to teach and learn new skills, I recognize it cannot be the only financial literacy activity we provide our children. So here is a list of additional activities for your kids to help improve their financial literacy.

Online Stock Market Games

 

To grow wealth, we must invest our money safely and wisely. Help your child safely learn about the stock market by playing a free stock market game online.

Stock Market Trend

Online Classes

Having an instructor walk our children through the different components of financial literacy and applying them could be just the thing to help our Black youth get a handle on financial literacy at an early age. Here are a few classes they can take online:

Starting a Business

Not every child will run their own business, but having your child try their hand at being a Kidprenuer can give them a lot of financial literacy experience. From budgeting to accounting, running a small business has transferrable financial literacy skills to help your child manage their budgets.
 

Play Some Games

Playing games can be a fun and educational way to learn new skills. Kick it ol’school with these classics:

Black Family Playing Monopoly

Give Your Child Money

Giving your child an allowance to practice using their money can be one of the best ways to help them master money skills. There are several apps and prepaid cards, or if your child is nine or younger, you may want to consider sticking to cash. It is easier to manage, and they will learn a lot, from budgeting to how to secure their money. 

If you do decide to use prepaid cards, here are a few that you can consider

There is an app for that.

Many apps and games help you manage allowances, teach kids about the credit system, and everything in between. Here are just a few for you to try.

Help to Build a Brighter Tomorrow

Financial literacy for Black youth is essential to help them build a foundation for a successful future. By learning to manage their money, make wise investments, and plan for their future, Black youth can make strides to close the racial wealth gap and, more importantly, achieve financial stability. Therefore, we must work together to ensure that all Black youth have access to financial education and resources to create a brighter tomorrow for themselves and their families.

Yes, Financial Literacy Is Important, Here Is Why

Why Is Financial Literacy Important

Why Is Financial Literacy So Important?

Financial literacy is one of the most important skills that a person can have for their overall well-being. Understanding and managing personal finances effectively can help you save for the future, improve your credit score, and protect yourself from potential financial emergencies. 

Additionally, having a good understanding of finances can help people build healthy personal relationships with money and reduce financial stress. Financial literacy benefits individuals, their families, communities, and the economy.

Financial literacy enables people to make informed financial decisions and protect themselves from financial risks. It can also help them build a positive financial future, achieve their financial goals, and live a comfortable life.

Impact of Financial Illiteracy

 

Unfortunately, many adults struggle with financial literacy. According to the Milken Institute, only 57% of adults in the United States are financially literate. This lack of knowledge can lead to serious problems.

According to a 2022 report, almost two-thirds of Americans live paycheck to paycheck without a path forward. Another 50% say they can’t manage a $1,000 emergency with the money in their savings.

Those who are financially literate are better able to save money, budget, and manage their credit cards and debt. They are also more likely to understand their credit score and less likely to fall victim to scams. In addition to poor financial outcomes, financial illiteracy has also been shown to correlate with poor physical health. Several factors may lead to this outcome, but the result is the same. Therefore, financial literacy is essential to reach financial stability and security. 

Financial literacy can be empowering. When people understand how money works, they’re less likely to feel overwhelmed, shame or helpless when faced with financial challenges. They’re also more likely to take action and seek out help when needed.

A man with coins on his hand

What Is Financial Literacy?

 

Financial literacy is the knowledge of managing all aspects of your financial life to reach and maintain a healthy state of financial wellness. More specifically, it helps you understand what you should be doing with your money and why it is essential; while also providing you with the tools to know how to do it and feel comfortable with it.

Examples of Financial Literacy Principles

 

Example 1

  • What: Pay yourself first.
  • Why: Prioritizing saving will create wealth and ensure you have a financial buffer for emergencies. It also takes advantage of compounding interest and investment returns if done consistently and over the long term.
  • How: 
    1. Track spending to find patterns and to help you build a budget. 
    2. Use a budget to reduce excessive spending. Live frugally to maximize your money.
    3. Automate your saving.

Example 2

  • What: Have your money work for you.
  • Why: Saving alone is often not sufficient to meet long-term goals like retirement. Investing wisely and over a long time can increase your net wealth.
  • How: 
    1. Seek sound investments and trustworthy advisors.
    2. Live off 90% or less of your income. Save, and invest the remaining 10%.
    3. Start investing early in life, even if the amount is small, to build the habit and maximize compounding.

Example 3

  • What: Protect your money
  • Why: To build wealth and financial security, you need to ensure you keep more of the money you make.
  • How:
    1. Minimize the taxes, fees, and interest you pay.
    2. Keep your money secured in a bank that is insured.
    3. Use insurance to protect your assets.
A man allocating his money

Here is a short list of some of the basic financial literacy principles:

  • Pay yourself first
  • Live within your means
  • Have your money work for you
  • Protect your money and your assets
  • Keep your money safe with banks 
  • Insure your assets
  • Maximize your earning potential
  • Prioritize wealth creation and maintenance
  • Use debt to help better yourself in the future
  • Set financial goals
  • Donate a portion of your income
  • Maximize your earning potential 

Understanding financial literacy principles can help you save for retirement, pay off credit cards and other debt, and make wise investments. There is also a lot of power in feeling like you have a handle on your money. And the more knowledge you have about financial concepts, the more equipped you will be to increase your financial wellness and security.

Importance of Financial Literacy for Young People

Financial literacy education is critical for young people because it can help them avoid making costly mistakes with their money and set them up for a successful financial future.

Some of the benefits of financial literacy for youth include learning how to: save money, budget effectively, make wise investments, understand credit and debt, and set financial goals. When young people have a strong understanding of these concepts, they are more likely to be successful in managing their finances as adults.

One of the biggest reasons to learn about finance early is to avoid common pitfalls that can lead to significant financial problems later in life. For example, many people make the mistake of not starting to save for retirement until they are much older, which can limit their options later on in life.

Importance of Financial Literacy for Adults

 

Here are seven reasons why financial literacy is important for adults:

  1. It can help you get out of debt. Studies have shown that people with high levels of financial literacy are less likely to carry high debt levels.
  2. It can help you save money. If you can budget and spend wisely, you can use the money you don’t spend to help you build your savings for long-term goals and emergencies.
  3. It empowers you to ask the right questions and understand the risks and benefits of different financial products, helping you avoid poor money decisions and risky investments.
  4. It helps you build and maintain wealth, helping you to achieve long-term financial stability.
  5. It helps you improve your health and relationships by reducing financial stress. Being stressed and anxious about money is often attributed to poor health and relationship conflicts.
  6. It can help to build your confidence and self-esteem when you let go of any shame or self-doubt you may have about how to manage your money.
  7. It can help you keep more of the money you have by helping you avoid paying unnecessary fees, interest, and taxes.
Seniors enjoying financial literacy

Importance of Financial Literacy for Seniors

 

One of the most critical steps a senior can take to protect their future is becoming financially literate. Many seniors live on a fixed income from retirement savings or a private or government pension. That means you must make wise choices with your money to cover your living expenses and save for the future. However, without the flexibility to learn from our financial mistakes, that can be costly both in the short and long run.

As we get older, we often face more complex financial decisions. For example, we may need to decide whether to downsize our home. Should we rent or buy when downsizing? You may also need to manage your retirement income, which could be coming from different sources at different times. Sound financial education can help maximize your retirement savings while minimizing taxes and other fees that drain your accounts.

Unfortunately, many seniors are targets of scams and frauds. Financial illiteracy can make us more vulnerable to these schemes. Seniors who understand basic personal financial concepts are less likely to be taken advantage of.

It is never too late to learn about financial literacy and its importance. Seniors, in particular, can benefit from understanding finance basics and learning how to make their retirement savings go the distance. Wise financial decision-making can improve seniors’ quality of life in retirement.

Budgeting with a calculator and a notebook

What the Experts Have to Say

"When you are able to manage your credit, investing, and money more effectively, your overall quality of life improves significantly.

Financial literacy can also help you grow confidence in other areas of your life."

 

Dr. Enoch Omololu

Founder of Savvy New Canadians and CEO at Enoch Media Inc.

"Financial literacy is knowing how to "read" money decisions. The importance of having the skills and knowledge to navigate the financial world is how adults gain independence to make decisions. Teaching children financial literacy means preparing them for earning and managing their money (spending, saving, borrowing/lending). Teaching concepts from a young age better prepares children for becoming financially confident adults - which means an increased likelihood of them making fewer money mistakes and a better chance of them making decisions for long-term success."

 

Alexandra (Alyx) Valdal BA, CHS, CFP, CLU

Iron & Pearl Financial (a Division of Apple a Day Financial, Ltd.)

"Financial literacy is important because the earlier you start to develop healthy money habits, the more success you will have in the long run when it comes to building wealth. Key financial concepts such as compounding and living within your means are exponentially more beneficial the earlier you start understanding and applying these concepts in your daily life."

 

Ayana Forward, CFP

https://www.retirementinview.ca

How to Improve Your Financial Literacy

If you want to be successful in life, it’s important to have a good handle on your finances.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to improve your financial literacy. The first step is to educate yourself about basic financial concepts. There are plenty of resources available both on and offline.

Here are some places to seek additional resources:

  • Books
  • Podcasts
  • Courses at local high schools, colleges and universities
  • Online course
  • Workshops at community organizations or libraries
  • Articles like this one
  • Certified financial planners 

Once you have a basic understanding of financial concepts, it’s time to start putting them into practice. Depending on where you are on your financial journey, you may need to:

  • Automate contributions to your savings.
  • Track your spending and look for patterns. 
  • Create a budget. 
  • Review and revise your budget periodically to make it work for you. 
  • Check and correct errors on your credit report (this can improve your credit score).
  • Get your credit score to see how you have been managing your debt.

Everyone is different, so access the financial resources you need to improve your financial wellness.

Conclusion: Why Is Financial Literacy Important?

 

Financial literacy is important because it helps people make informed decisions about their money. In addition, it provides you with the knowledge of not just what to do but also why you should do it—allowing you to reduce stress and increase your overall well-being. 

Continue to educate yourself and act on what you learn. You can help yourself build wealth by saving more, investing for the long term and creating a plan to help you reach your financial goals, all while weathering the financial emergencies that are bound to pop up from time to time.

Invest in yourself by seeking out resources that can help you master your finances today.

The Importance of Financial Wellness

Definition of Financial Wellness

The Importance of Financial Wellness

Financial wellness is the term used to describe a healthy financial life. It refers to having a well-rounded financial plan and managing your money effectively. Financial wellness is essential for individuals and families because it can help you feel comfortable and stable financially.

When it comes to our finances, most of us think about things like budgeting, saving, and investing. But financial wellness is about more than just money. It’s about being able to cover your expenses now and in the future, feeling secure about your financial situation, and having the flexibility to make choices that are right for you.

Financial wellness doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort to build a solid financial foundation. But with good financial wellness practices, you are more likely to achieve your goals, provide stability and predictability in your financial life, and increase your overall happiness. In short, financial wellness is covering your monthly expenses without assistance and having some money saved for the future and emergencies. It’s a measure of your overall financial health.

A Real-Life Financial Wellness Example 

 

A little while back, my wife got into a car accident. She was fine, but the car was totalled. It was an old car, so a write-off from our insurance policy. 

With our young family, and my wife’s need to commute by car to work, we needed a new vehicle quickly. That feeling alone could have been stressful, but it would have been worse if I didn’t have the money in the bank to buy a vehicle.

Yes, I could have financed something if I had to, but that would have put our family into debt, added another payment to our monthly budget, and added to the car’s total price when you factor in the fees and interest payments. 

A fully-funded emergency fund, which is an indication of financial wellness, helped ensure that we were not knocked off track from reaching our long-term financial goals in a time of financial difficulty.

Emergency funds in a jar

What Is the Definition of Financial Wellness? 

 

The term financial wellness is relatively new, but what does it actually mean? Previously you may have heard people speak of reaching financial independence or financial stability. While both are important, they are just components of financial wellness.  

Financial wellness is a state of being where an individual has control over their finances and can meet their financial obligations. It’s not just about having enough money saved up but also includes being able to cover expenses, make wise investments, and stay out of debt.

Financial wellness may seem like an impossible goal, but it’s not. Anyone can achieve it with a bit of work and some planning.

How to Achieve Financial Wellness 

 

It can be easy to get lost in the day-to-day expenses of life and forget about the future. But if you want to achieve financial wellness, it’s crucial to have a plan. Here are a few tips for getting started:

  1. Make a list of your short and long-term financial goals. This list could include saving for retirement, paying down debt, buying a home or taking a vacation.
  2. Track your spending for at least a week. This will help you better understand your expenses and see where you can make adjustments.
  3. Create or update your budget using the information you tracked and insights you learned  in the last step.
  4. Try to make small changes in your spending habits using the information you collected when you tracked your spending. Some examples are packing your lunch instead of eating out or cancelling unused subscriptions.
  5. Depending on your goals, you may want to try to maximize your earning potential by asking for a raise, increasing the rates you charge, or taking on a side hustle.
  6. To minimize fees and interest payments, you may want to consider consolidating your debt. Only do this step if you have gotten a handle on your spending.
  7. Seek out professional help if needed. For example, a financial planner can help you create a roadmap to financial wellness, helping to make sure you have the right financial products to insure yourself and your assets and an investment strategy to help you stay on track with your goals.
  8. Lastly, if you want to reach a state of financial wellness, it is helpful to seek out books and other resources to increase your financial literacy.
Financial Planner

Benefits of Financial Wellness 

Financial wellness is the ability to manage one’s money wisely and confidently. It encompasses things such as creating a budget, tracking expenses, and investing for the long term. Financial wellness can help individuals save money, pay off debt, and build a cushion in case of an emergency.

Financial wellness is a term used to describe a way of life that helps people manage their money effectively. It can help people save for the future, live below their means, and pay off debt. It can also help people learn how to deal with money problems in a healthy way. You can teach yourself how to reach financial wellness through education, personal finance counselling, or financial planning services.

Parents teaching their kid how to bike

Conclusion 

When most people think of the definition of financial wellness, they think about having a certain amount of money in the bank or being able to afford their lifestyle. But true financial wellness is so much more than that. It’s about managing your money in a way that allows you to live comfortably now and in the future.

There is no one-size-fits-all definition of financial wellness, but if you manage your debt, have an emergency fund, and save for retirement, you are well on your way. It’s also important to understand your financial situation and be proactive about managing your money.

Financial wellness is not only about having a certain amount of money in the bank. It is about having a healthy relationship with money and managing your finances in a way that allows you to live a comfortable life without stress or worry. You can do many things to improve your financial well-being, like following the above steps, and it is never too late to start.

The Best Financial Literacy Books for Black Youth

Best Financial Literacy Books for Black Youth

The Best Financial Literacy Books for Black Youth

This post contains affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read full policy here.

Fortunately, over the last few years, we have seen much more diversity in literature, specifically when it comes to Black youth. As we know, young readers need to see people who look like them represented in positive ways. The lack of representation in books can have a significant impact on youth. 

When Black youth see themselves reflected in the books they read, they may resonate and relate more deeply with the material. Connecting to the text can help increase self-esteem and the amount of information absorbed and retained by the child.

Below are my top ten money books with Black representation for youth.

A big thank you to misformoneybook author Rob Phalan who has featured or interviewed these books and authors on his Instagram feed. His book M is for Money is another great money resource for kids!
 

If you are looking for more books on financial literacy, including books by black authors, check out my article here.

The Best Books About Financial Literacy | By Category

The Best Books about Financial Literacy by Category

The Best Books About Financial Literacy | By Category

This post contains affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read full policy here.

Financial literacy is essential for anyone who wants to make informed decisions about their money. There are many great books about financial literacy, and these are some of the best.  

The key to making savvy financial decisions is knowing what to do and why you should do it. And that’s where financial literacy comes in.

This is not another top financial literacy book list. Instead, this is a comprehensive list of the best books to read for financial literacy that will meet you wherever you are on your financial journey and get you to where you want to be.

Skip to: 

Kids | Teens | Young Adults | Adults | Parents | Seniors | Beginners | Intermediate | Women | Minorities | Canadians | Hidden Gems

Best Financial Literacy Books for Kids

 

Help your little ones start their financial journeys with these titles that will introduce money topics in fun and playful ways.

1. M is For Money: It is never too early to start giving your child the foundations of financial literacy. This book familiarizes your child with the language of money using age-appropriate descriptions and fun illustrations.

2. Grampa’s Fortune Fables: An award-winning book that walks kids through the foundations of financial literacy with fun and engaging short stories.

3. The Four Money Bears: This book is great because it goes beyond spending, saving, and giving and introduces the concept of investing early on. It also shows the benefit of all four financial principles working together.

Best Financial Literacy Books for Teens

 

These titles will challenge teens but not overwhelm them. Hopefully, showing them what to expect and, even better, what to strive for, as they become young adults.

1. First to a Million: An excellent book for teens and young adults that breaks down how to reach your financial goals fast. It introduces the idea that you don’t need to wait until you are 65 to retire and then give young people a plan to get them there.

2. I Want More Pizza: Keep it short and simple. No complex math equations here, just use the one thing all teens seem to like, to teach them how to manage their money. Pizza! A great guidebook to introduce teens to managing their own money effectively.

3. Investing for Teens: “It’s never too early to learn how to make your money work for you!” This is a fact. It is often said the best time to start investing was anytime before today, the next best time is today. So give your teens a head start by giving them resources that will prepare them to make their money work for them.

Best Financial Literacy Books for Young Adults

 

Early adulthood can be a challenging but rewarding time. These books will help you get started on the right foot.

1. Broke MillennialTo master our money, we need to be able to talk about our money. This is a money conversation navigational guidebook with helpful scripts and prompts for all occasions and locations.

2. I Will Teach You To Be RichRamit is like a wealth ninja who gives you actionable tips on how to structure your life to earn, save, invest and spend less time thinking about any of them.

3. Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School?: A quick and easy read that focuses less on the numbers and more on sound money management principles. Practical lessons that really should be taught in schools.

Best Financial Literacy Books for Adults

 

Adulting is hard. Make it a little bit easier by building a better relationship with your money to reach your financial goals more quickly.

1. Millionaire Teacher: Becoming a millionaire is likely very different than what you thought. This practical handbook to spending and investing can help you get there.

2. The Simple Path to Wealth: A straightforward, slow and steady approach to wealth creation. While most financial instruments specified are solely for a U.S. audience, this book is full of practical advice in an easy-to-read format.

3. Choose FI: If you are not into the slow and steady approach to reaching financial independence, this book is for you. This book and the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement both advocate for  frugal living and early investing, so that you can reach a state of financial independence as soon as possible.

Best Financial Literacy Books for Parents and Guardians

 

Parents have a unique role in educating and supporting the next generation. Take a look at these great books (if I say so myself) to help you, help your family, be more financially literate and prepared.

1. Your Kids, Their Money:  Am I biased? Yes, but I still think this book is a phenomenal guide for parents and kids. With heart and soul, this book speaks to parents to help give them the tools, resources, and language to prepare children of any age to become financially literate.

2. Money Boss Mom: Parenting is not easy, so take all the help you can get. Use this book to learn how to talk with your spouse and children about money.

3. The Opposite of Spoiled: This book has compiled fantastic stories and best practices to use when approaching money and parenting. While the author’s assessment of the middle class is on the very high side, the concepts discussed are still a great starting point.

Best Financial Literacy Books for Seniors

 

We all hope our money will last through retirement, but let’s be proactive rather than hope. Use these books to ensure you can live life to the fullest and support yourself in your later years.

1. The 5 Years Before You Retire: It’s never a good idea to wait until the last minute when planning. That is especially true when talking about retirement planning. This book helps you create a realistic retirement plan, even if retirement is just around the corner.

2. How to Make Your Money Last: Thankfully, most people live longer than previous generations. Unfortunately, too many financial guides still spout old investment advice that doesn’t take longer retirements into account. This book is the exception.

3. Rock Retirement: This book takes a holistic look at retirement. Instead of just focusing on the money and the “save more” script, it makes you think about what you want out of retirement and helps folks think about how they want to live today and tomorrow.

Best Financial Literacy Books for Beginners

 

These are the best books to read for financial literacy if you are a beginner. The stories are fun and provide interesting perspectives that I hope will open your mind to managing their money to live a more financially stable and fulfilling life.

1. Richest Man in Babylon: Arguably the best book on financial literacy, this timeless classic gives you the keys to wealth in fun parables located in ancient Babylon. The prose can be challenging at times, but the lessons are timeless.

2. The Wealthy Barber: While this book is dated, its narrative style is helpful to get beginners to start engaging with financial literacy concepts. Reading a story can often be a lot more palatable to the beginner. So start here, but don’t stop here.

3. Your Money or Your Life: This book details its nine-step program to transform your relationship with money to help you reach financial independence. This book is for you if you want to live a better life and money is holding you back.

Best Books to Improve Your Financial Literacy for Intermediate

 

If you already know the basics but would like to understand better why you do or don’t do what you need to, then delve into the depths of your mind with these books.

1. The Psychology of Money: I love this book. It highlights how we do not always act rationally with our money. It lets you know that it is okay to make a wrong decision, as long as you make the right financial moves when it counts.

2. Happy Go Money: A happiness guidebook. If you have ever thought, “If I only had more money, I would be happy,” buy this book. If your goal is to have a healthy and happy relationship with money, this book is for you.

3. The Next Millionaire Next Door: The much-needed follow-up to the groundbreaking The Millionaire Next Door. This book helps you better understand what millionaires think, do and buy. And it will tell you how it is in your power to be one of them.

Best Financial Literacy Books for Women

 

Any gender can use every book on this list, but if you are looking for financial literacy books written by women, here are my top 3.

1. You Are a Badass at Making Money: This book will motivate you to make a change if it is the last thing it does. It is scattered with motivational quotes, like “A healthy desire for wealth is not greed, it’s a desire for life” or “You have infiltrated greatness inside of you. Let it win over the BS.” Written in a very casual style, this is an unapologetic manual to help you get yours.

2. Get Good with Money: Pulls you right in from the jump. The author’s story is crazy. And reading her fall from “financial grace” will keep you turning the pages on this helpful guidebook that focuses on budgeting and debt: a perfect step-by-step and chapter-by-chapter approach to get yourself on track financially.

3. Clever Girl Finance: This is a no-fluff book to help women build a financial action plan. Each chapter is short but purposeful, carrying you on a path to financial wellness.

Best Financial Literacy Books for Black and Other Minorities

 

Like my books for women, black and minority readers can use any book on this list. But if you are looking for books written by black or minority authors, here is my list.

1. Your Kids, Their Money (For Parents): After digging out of debt in his early twenties, Corbin has dedicated himself to helping the next generation make wise financial money moves.

2. Get Good with Money (For Adults): The self-proclaimed “Budgetnista” breaks down what you should be doing with your money in a skillfully laid out, informative, and engaging plan.

3. Cashing Out (For Adults): A roadmap to creating wealth for black folks that shows them a different path than the usual scripts we have been hearing since we were little, with practical advice that addresses the struggle.

Check out this post for a list of financial literacy books for black youth.

Best Financial Literacy Books for Canadians

 

The Canadian financial landscape is unique, from TSA to RRSPs. Check out this list to make the most of your loonies and twoonies.

1. Money Like You Mean It: A cleaver book that breaks down the big picture economic policies by giving you the historical context for how we got here and how you can best maneuver the Canadian economy to maximize your financial wellness.

2. Wealthing Like Rabbits: Don’t take this book lightly because of its title. While written in an easy-to-read casual, and fun manner, the lessons imparted are helpful to any Canadian who wants to ensure they can retire comfortably.

3. House Poor No More: Specifically for the homeowner, this book breaks down the wise and not so wise moves you can make financially with one of the most significant assets many of us will ever own.

Hidden Gems, Financial Literacy Books that are not about Financial Literacy

 

Managing your money is about so much more than just what you do with your money. It is about your mindset and the stories we tell ourselves. Use these books to help get you to find your happy place.

1. Atomic Habits: If you want to be successful with your money, you must form healthy money habits. Changing your spending or saving patterns is not easy, but it’s worth the effort. Atomic habits breaks down how habits are formed and help you remake them.

2. Daring Greatly: Unfortunately, money is still often a taboo subject connected with a lot of shame and self-doubt. To help you get better with your money, sometimes you have to get better with yourself. This book provides a roadmap on how to be vulnerable, experience joy, let go of shame, and understand that you are enough.

Read my Daring Greatly review.

3. The Obstacle Is the Way: Stoicism is coming back. Stoicism is a philosophy that was founded in Athens, Greece, in the early 3rd century B.C. The philosophy teaches self-control, inner calm, and resilience in the face of adversity. Use this gook to face the complexities of our money and life.

Final Thoughts

 

These books about financial literacy will help you achieve your financial goals, whatever they may be. I wish you the best of luck on your financial journey.  

If you feel like I missed one of the top financial literacy books or the best books to read for financial literacy, please let me know in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts.

The Thing About Teaching Financial Literacy

I hear you out there. “Teaching financial literacy is a drag.” And it can be. Like most, you probably think about being in a math classroom with a teacher droning on. Or maybe when you hear the word “teaching,” you have flashbacks of notebooks, textbooks, and tests.

While all of those can be part of the learning process, they are far from the only ways we can teach. I would argue they are not all that effective when teaching financial literacy. Especially not for your children.

There are many ways to teach, but the method I want you to focus on is storytelling. If you have spent any time reading my articles, you have seen some of my stories. From outsourcing my paper route to plunging myself into credit debt, I have endless stories to share about managing and mismanaging my finances. I tell my stories to show you where I went wrong and how I got back on the right track. I hope it is easy for you to see yourself in my stories of using credit cards to finance nights out. Or stories about not sticking to a budget when I knew I had no more money coming in and endless bills that don’t ever stop.

Share Your Stories

While I hope my stories resonate with you, what I want you to do is to find and tell your stories to your kids. Your stories will resonate with them. We all have our stories of finical triumphs and pitfalls. Not one of us has done everything right or wrong.

Kids love stories of triumphs. They love to hear how David slew Goliath or when Jack chopped down the bean stock. But to give them the tales of winning, we need to share the parts about our falls and missteps. We often learn the most from the mistakes we make along the way.

So share those stories, and don’t sugar coat them. Give them all the details about overdrafts, debt collectors, or repossessions. Please give them the tales about being laid off, downsized, or deemed “surplus.” We all get knocked down. But we are all still standing. Why? Because we all got back up. Show your kids how you are a fighter and what you have learned from your journey.

Tell them that you contribute to a retirement fund because you don’t have a pension. Let our kids know that you maintain a rainy day fund because you have lost jobs before. Let them know that you won’t buy them that toy because it is not in your budget, and your budget is what makes sure that the bills are paid at the end of the month and keeps you out of debt.

Those stories will resonate with your kids in ways that textbooks never could.