Last Updated: April 20, 2009
The month of April marks Financial Literacy Month! In celebration of the month dedicated to helping Americans learn more about money. Here are some tips from FPA members and other organizations on how you can become more financially literate.
- Think short-term. Set up a short-term financial goal and then tell one person so that he or she can be the "accountability partner in achieving that goal," said FPA member, Saundra D. Davis, MSFP, executive director at Sage Financial Solutions, Inc.
- Think small. Families could meet and set a household budget for sharing, saving and spending for one month, said Tony Morse, a director at Padilla Speer Beardsley.
- Read a primer. According to J.Thomas Regan, a new business development director at PlanViser Financial, consider reading the "My Money" tool kit provided by the U.S. government.
- Track your spending. Every member of the family can track their spending for the month, then meet at the end to discuss what they find, said Jonathan Sprague, director, Pro Bono Services at Financial Planning Association® (FPA®). "The best low-tech idea for tracking spending that I've heard of recently is to get a stack of index cards and date them. Each morning, you take that date's card and mark all expenses, toss it back in the pot at the end of the day, then add it all up at the end of the month."
- It's never too early to start learning about the value of a dollar and how to spend that dollar wisely, according to FPA member, Brett S. Ellen, CFP®, president and founder of American Financial Network. Ellen has unveiled a kids' financial blog. In the release, Ellen said he wants to give kids a fun way to learn material to which they might not otherwise have access, and to help them become financially literate.
- If you going to get smart about money, you might as well make it pay. Yes, if you're in high school, your knowledge about all things financial could help you win a scholarship. For example, in March, the Charles Schwab Foundation awarded $1,000 scholarships to each of the 22 students who obtained scores of 100 percent on the fall 2008 National Financial Literacy Challenge. The "Challenge" for 2009 will take place later this year, but it might be worth hitting the books now. The voluntary test is an initiative recommended by the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy and administered by the Department of the U.S. Treasury. The Challenge was developed by the Office of Financial Education, Department of the U.S. Treasury, in consultation with four prominent academicians, the National Endowment for Financial Education, Junior Achievement USA, the National Council on Economic Education and the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. Learn more about the 2009 National Financial Literacy Challenge.
- The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), the federal partner in the nationwide Cooperative Extension System, will highlight its Financial Security program at the 2009 Financial Literacy Day, April 30, at the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill. Among other activities, the financial education work of the "eXtension" will be highlighted. The eXtension Financial Security for All Community of Practice hosts a series of informational chat sessions directing visitors to that Web site. Visitors can ask questions and get answers from extension personal finance experts. Learn more about the eXtension Financial Security for All Community of Practice. You can also get answers to your financial planning questions via FPA's "Ask a Planner" e-mail hotline.
- When it comes to resources, there are no shortages of Web sites that help you learn about money, according FPA member, John Comer, CFP®, a principal at Comer Consulting, LLC. Here's his list of Web sites that he says are worth visiting.