Three Ways to Improve Your Financial Literacy: Are you one of the thousands who may know your bank balance—but that’s the extent of your financial literacy? Many experts recommend four basic things you should understand about personal finance: income, expenses, assets and liabilities.
Three Ways to Improve Your Financial Literacy
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If you feel a bit, well, illiterate, it’s a great time to learn about handling money and expand your financial knowledge. The resources available online and in your community can help you to move beyond checkbook balancing to understanding retirement and investment opportunities—without being complicated or time-consuming.
The following suggestions can be among the first steps you take on the road to better financial literacy.
Do Your Homework
A good place to start is by reading newspapers and magazines—online or off—that talk about money. The financial section your local paper can be a great resource, along with Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, Money, Barron’s and Fortune.
Websites like Kiplinger, NerdWallet or LearnVest feature a broad range of topics from investing to real estate. If your eyes usually glaze over a few paragraphs into articles about money, reading online is a great option because most online content will include charts, slideshows and quizzes.
Speaking of learning online, you can take courses in basic economics, accounting and capital markets from Udemy or Coursera, which partners with top universities and organizations to offer courses you can take at home.
Seek Expert Advice
If your research uncovers a dismal financial picture, you might want to talk to an experienced advisor. You might also consider a personal loan to eliminate credit card payments or pay medical expenses.
“From a financial responsibility standpoint, it feels like a semi-savvy way to take on debt,” says Bankrate’s personal loans expert Todd Albery.
Look for a company like SkyCap Financial, which offers SkyCap University, a free online course for its clients that is aimed at improving financial literacy. The course covers several basic financial topics such as creating a budget, dealing with credit and loans, and preparing for retirement. It also offers information about dealing with major financial life events, such as getting married or having a child.
There’s An App for That
The third quick and easy way gain financial literacy is to attach a finance management tool to your personal accounts. Sign up for one of these services and connect your checking, savings, credit cards and mortgage. Financial management tools like Mint, Quicken or Personal Capital are great aids to improving financial literacy.
Other creative apps range from Honeyfi, which helps couples manage their finances together, to Clarity, a budgeting app designed for Millennials and Centennials. It’s also designed for beginners, especially for those starting their money journey with debt. You can check out other apps in this Forbes article.
The bottom line to a better bottom line is self-education, especially since few schools teach it: “When you stop to think about it, why was algebra a required subject in high school, but learning how to manage personal finances wasn’t even on the school’s radar screen?” asks LoanCanada’s Caitlin Wood. “Navigating the choppy waters of today’s increasingly complex society will be made easier as students [and everyone] better understand and prepare for the financial challenges and opportunities that await them.”