Last year I wrote a 3-part series on the value of establishing financial literacy in one’s life. In recognition that April has been designated Financial Literacy Month in the United States, I thought I would revisit that topic and stress once again the importance of becoming financially literate.
However, I’d like to first share a few words about the origins and goals of Financial Literacy Month.
In 2000, The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) established Youth Financial Literacy Day as an adjunct to its High School Financial Planning Program. Eventually, NEFE joined forces with the Jump$tart Coalition to access and promote its Literacy Day through their network of national partners and state coalitions.
Jump$tart expanded the program and began promoting April as Financial Literacy for Youth Month. Later, in 2004, the United States Senate officially recognized April as National Financial Literacy Month, and both Houses of Congress have passed similar resolutions every year since then.
Financial Literacy Month is an opportunity for financial corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies to promote their educational initiatives and resources. Its mission is to emphasize the importance of financial literacy and to encourage families, classrooms and youth organizations to reflect on how people can establish and maintain healthy financial habits, and manage their money wisely.
For people who are serious about educating themselves about financial literacy, there is a wealth of online resources available to help. One such resource is the Council for Economic Education.
According to its website, the Council for Economic Education (CEE) is “the leading organization in the United States that focuses on the economic and financial education of students from kindergarten through high school. Our goal is to reach and teach every child to create a more informed citizenry capable of making better decisions as savers, investors, borrowers, voters, and participants in the global economy.”
The CEE also actively participates in Financial Literacy Month and this year they have created the #MySavingsStory Video Campaign. The campaign shares personal stories from successful people who seek to “inform and inspire kids to understand and take control of their financial lives.”
Another great resource for young people is the Junior Achievement program. Offering an extensive array of economic and entrepreneurial programs to students from kindergarten through 12th grade, Junior Achievement helps “to prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it; how to create jobs which make their communities more robust; and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace.”
Recently I wrote an article about the Worldwide Celebration of Global Money Week. This is an annual event that last year reached 7 million children in 130 participating countries around the world.
According to the GMW website, the goal of all the local and regional events and activities that are held as part of the celebration is to “inspire children and youth to learn about money, saving, creating livelihoods, gaining employment and becoming an entrepreneur.”
Of course, when it comes to financial literacy, the earlier one begins in life, the better. But even so, these are skills that are important and valuable to everyone, regardless of age.
Finally, I would say, don’t be afraid to ask for help. For those not familiar with the financial services industry, it can seem a bit daunting and overwhelming, but there are qualified professionals who are willing to help and educate as needed.
Financial literacy, and the resulting benefits from it, can have a tremendous impact on the quality of life for an individual, as well as their family. The subjects may sound simple – earning, spending, saving and investing – but their implementation (or lack of it) can have major life consequences.
I strongly urge everyone to do whatever it takes to become more financially literate. It’s an effort that will pay dividends for a long time to come.
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