April marks the start of Financial Literacy Month. 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 the month, and how financial literacy affects the money choices we make. We’ll also explore ways to become more financially literate so we can manage our money responsibly all year long.
The History of Financial Literacy Month
In 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 eventually shortened to Financial Literacy Month. The following year, President George W. Bush declared April as National Financial Literacy Month. Since then, it has been observed every year, with various organizations and institutions offering financial education resources and events to help individuals improve their financial literacy skills. The goal is to empower people to take control of their finances, make informed financial decisions and achieve greater financial well-being.
Why is Financial Literacy So 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, which 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 is Financial Literacy Month observed?
In April, 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 to 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, 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 (you can find a full list of these state departments here).
Next, check what type of events your financial institution has planned for the month of April. Most financial institutions will offer lectures, counseling, reading materials, or other means of broadening financial knowledge throughout the month. At Quorum, we’ll continue to post great content on a number of financial topics right here on our Learning Hub. Members also enjoy access to FREE confidential counseling on a number of subjects from our partners at Balance Financial Fitness as well as FREE webinars twice a month.
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.
Finally, check your local library to see what they have planned in April. Many libraries offer activities, lectures and workshops on financial topics like debt and credit management, to promote financial education.
What You Can Do Throughout April
Though you can access a variety of programs and lectures on financial literacy this month, you can also find ways to celebrate at home:
- Make financial literacy the topic of your book club this month. Choose a book 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 what APR and APY mean and why they are important? Look up the answer to one personal finance question each day of April, and at 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 online blogs (ahem… such as our award-winning Learning Hub, right here) that explore financial topics. Browse through the most popular ones to find the blog that speaks your language best. Some choice financial blogs include The Penny Hoarder, Money Crashers and Money Under 30.
- Commit to a new financial goal. Financial literacy is all about using your knowledge to make better financial decisions. Use the opportunity 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 this April and create your own learning experiences. By expanding your financial knowledge you’ll be better equipped to make responsible money decisions throughout the year.