Did you know that April is Financial Literacy Month?
Financial Literacy Month is a national campaign designed to bring more financial education to children and adults.
Learn the four steps to start your financial success
Whether you're a financial wiz or just learning the ropes, there are many ways to improve your financial literacy. Here are four to get you started.
Make a Monthly Budget
One of the essential steps to financial literacy is creating a monthly budget. This may sound simple, but your financial strategy's foundation is a budget.
Creating a monthly budget doesn't have to be complicated. Here's how to ensure you're setting yourself up for financial success:
- First, calculate your gross monthly income. This could include your salary, investment income, Social Security, child support/alimony, freelance work, or other income sources. Remember to calculate your net income, which is how much is left after taxes and other deductions.
- Speaking of priorities, consider your financial priorities and allocate your budget accordingly. In addition to your regular monthly expenses, you might decide to increase your general savings or earmark money toward a large purchase such as a home or car. The critical point is determining what’s essential and ensuring your budget reflects those values.
- Finally, create expense categories for where your money is spent and track every expense. It's important to differentiate between wants and needs. You need to pay the rent or mortgage, but you want a new pair of shoes or a nice dinner out. By tracking your spending, you can determine whether your budget is aligned with your priorities or if you should make adjustments to meet your goals.
Check Your Credit Score
If it's been a while since you checked your credit score, now is a great time to see where you stand. Your credit score is an important metric when considering your financial health and will play a more significant role when applying for loans, especially mortgages and car loans. If you have a higher credit score, you may qualify for lower-interest debt, saving you money.
You can check your credit for free or request a free annual credit report from the Federal Trade Commission.
Reviewing your credit report is essential to ensure there aren't any mistakes or incorrect accounts assigned to you. Contact your financial institutions immediately if you notice something on your credit report that doesn't look accurate, such as a loan or credit card you don't remember opening. You can also file a dispute with the credit reporting agencies to report any false information you find.
Understand Your Investment Options
As your financial literacy increases and you feel comfortable talking about your finances, you may consider looking into investments aligned with your goals. There are so many different types of investments and working with a financial advisor can help you understand your options and can also you help improve your financial literacy. Of, course, It would help if you also educated yourself on some of the most common investment types, including:
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Talking about finances can be intimidating, but we all must start somewhere. This Financial Literacy Month, make it a goal to learn one or two new facts about finance and contact an expert who can help. You can turn to financial advisors and financial publications to get your questions answered without feeling naïve or silly. There's no such thing as a dumb question about becoming more financially literate and secure.
Financial literacy doesn't come from making giant leaps but rather from taking one step at a time. Pick one of the options above and start yourself on the path to becoming financially savvy.