Growing up, we are taught many things throughout our years of formal schooling, from reading and writing all the way to the phases of mitosis. Yet, out of all the intellectual skills and literacy we are expected to learn before adulthood, financial literacy is most commonly neglected. Most young people venture into their adult lives without having learned even the most basic financial skills or knowing how to find the resources they will need to lead financially successful lives. Understanding the importance of financial literacy, planning, and freedom and having the resources to achieve all these will benefit you for the rest of your life. It’s never too late to learn how to make your money work for you, so read on to find which of these financial literacy resources can help you achieve the financial freedom you crave.
What is Financial Literacy?
Being literate does not only apply to traditional schooling subjects, but it is important to become—and always to strive to become more—literate in all areas of life. To be literate means to be educated, well-versed, and experienced in your chosen area of focus. We all know what it means to be literate in terms of reading and writing; that is, you know how to read at a high level, are well-read in culturally significant literature, and have the ability to write well enough to be accurate and understood. But what does it mean to be financially literate? Honestly, it’s not much different. To be financially literate means that you have an understanding of financial terminology and how money functions in society, you have studied basic philosophies of money management, and you understand how to apply these principles to your own finances.
As nice as it seems to put our money management on auto-pilot, money is a dynamic, ever-changing player in our lives, and if we don’t have an understanding of how it moves in and out of it, it can be as destructive as it is beneficial. From governments to marriages, conversations surrounding income, budgets, and debt can be stressful and fraught with tension. However, if we treat money as a tool and wield it with respect, transparency, and forethought, our finances have the ability to strengthen our closest relationships and provide opportunities for our goals. So, while it may be tempting to allow financial discussions and planning to slide to the back-burner to avoid confrontation, trust that becoming financially literate is an investment in your future that you don’t want to procrastinate.
Financial Resources to Get You Started
But where to start? Unlike other forms of literacy, knowing how to find the resources for financial literacy and education may not be so obvious. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you become a master of your finances. Whether it be through books, videos, podcasts, websites, or personal advisors, no matter your learning or lifestyle, you can find a way to learn what’s best for you.
Many books have been written to educate and guide you on your path to financial literacy. These books can teach you about budgeting, investing, and debt management. In addition to the basics, these books teach you life philosophies surrounding money and how to change your mentality to succeed better in the long term. Some of the most popular and trusted books include:
- The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Online Courses and Tutorials
Online courses and videos are incredible resources that provide quality financial instruction that is engaging and targeted. These online courses and videos show how to prioritize your money on a personal scale and how to tackle some of the most problematic aspects of your finances. While there are many paid courses, there are also those that are free and available in nearly every financial topic you can think of. Even Harvard offers a free and simple online course for financial literacy that covers budgeting, taxes, and everything in between. Here are a few more courses you may be interested in:
- Khan Academy’s Financial Literacy
- Udemy’s Beginner’s Guide to Managing Money
- MIT’s Open Course in Financial Literacy
If you are always on the move and it’s difficult to find time to sit down and read a book or dedicate time to watch a video course, give podcasts a try. You can listen to these audio resources anywhere and start your financial education even while you commute. Here are a few you may like:
If you really want to get serious about financial success and you want some truly personalized advice, you may want to look into contacting a financial advisor. Financial advisors are there to help you make and keep more of your money. So, while it may seem counterproductive to pay someone to help you save money, you will find your investment of this personalized attention will give you a great return on your investment if you follow their counsel. A financial advisor will look at your personal finances and struggles and give you a plan and ongoing support to help you reach your goals. Make sure to find a financial advisor who makes you feel understood and supported so you can trust their counsel even when it may get uncomfortable.
Don’t put off prioritizing your financial literacy any longer. By taking the steps needed to educate yourself, take ownership of your finances, and make a plan to improve your current money management strategy, you can free yourself from financial stress and the shackles of debt and financial uncertainty. Make the decision now to use one of the resources above and give yourself the gift of financial literacy.