April is Financial Literacy Month. Financial Literacy Month became official in 2004 when the Senate passed Resolution 316 to officially recognize the month. While it’s not as fun as Halloween or your birthday, its goal of starting and keeping healthy financial habits is worth celebrating.
Why We Need Financial Literacy Month
We know, it seems like everything has its own holiday these days. But when you consider the following numbers, you’ll understand why Financial Literacy Month is so important.
- Only 24% of millennials show basic financial literacy. (National Endowment for Financial Education)
- 35% of U.S. adults with a credit file have debt collections reported in those files – owing an average of $5,178. (Urban Institute)
- About one-third of Americans pay the minimum due on their credit cards each month. (FINRA’s National Financial Capacity Study)
- The number of consumers age 60+ with student loan debt has quadrupled over the past decade. (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
- Two-thirds of Americans would struggle to scrounge up $1,000 in an emergency. (NORC Center for Public Affairs Research)
How’s Your Financial Health?
We can’t think of a better way to honor Financial Literacy Month than to help our members improve their financial health. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Get Your Free Credit Report
The best way to get a handle on your finances is to know exactly what you owe and what your credit score is. You can get one free annual credit report here.
- Create a Budget
It doesn’t matter if you use an app, spreadsheet or a piece of paper. What’s important is to just write down what money comes in and goes out each month and then put together a budget using those numbers.
- Put Together a Debt Payoff Plan
We’ve all got a little debt to pay off. Do you know how much your debt totals? Do the math and then figure out how you can start paying it off. Hint – start with the debt with the highest interest rates first.
- Pay Yourself First
Before you tackle your monthly bills, be sure you’re putting away some of each paycheck in a savings or retirement account. That way, you won’t be tempted to spend it.
- Earn Some Extra Cash
You could freelance, get a second job or get creative to earn some extra money each month. This could boost your savings and help you pay your debt off that much faster.
One of the best ways to get and stay financially literate is to boost your knowledge about personal finances. Here are a few websites you might want to check out:
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – It’s dedicated to keeping consumers safe while educating them at the same time.
- Jump$tart Coalition – A great website for kids and parents alike to learn more about money.
- AARP– You don’t have to be retired to use their free literacy tools.
- National Endowment for Financial Education – Created to boost the financial literacy of consumers like you.
- GreenPath Financial Wellness – Thanks to WWFCU’s partnership, our members have unlimited free access to personal and family budgeting, debt counseling and more.