If I asked you a few simple questions about your personal finances like, “How much debt do you have?” “What is your credit score?” or “Approximately how much do you need to have saved in order to live comfortably when you retire?” would you be able to answer them without hesitation?
Unfortunately, most people have no idea what their debt is, let alone their net worth. That’s where the importance of financial literacy comes in and is marked every year in April. Did you know that Americans carry more than $2 trillion in consumer debt and 30 percent of consumers report having no extra cash; making it impossible to escape the burden of living paycheck to paycheck?
It’s ironic that Financial Literacy Month aligns with tax season. If you really examine this timing closely, it can be seen as an opportunity to increase our knowledge on personal finances, especially those who are expecting a tax refund. Here are a few tips to get started:
- Obtain a copy of your credit report. It is important to periodically see where you stand when it comes to your credit score. It becomes a very important number in your life when it’s time to make significant purchases like a car, home, educational loans, etc.
- Make a list of your financial goals for up to at least the next 5 years. Putting something in writing is the first step to making it a reality. Be realistic about your goals and take daily steps toward achieving them. For example, saving can be as simple as throwing loose change in a jar and then depositing it in a bank each time the jar gets full.
- Make an appointment with a financial advisor. Just like people rely on physicians, stylists, barbers, dentists and other professionals to deliver personal needs/care, add financial advisor to the list. Typically, initial consultations are free, so you can get a feel for the person before you just jump into a financial relationship. Be sure to share your list of financial goals with your advisor and ask how he or she can help with meeting the milestones you’ve set.
Financial Literacy doesn’t happen overnight, but the good news is that there are countless resources both online and in your community created to help you live your best financial life. A great place to start is Indiana MoneyWise. Through this program, the Indiana Secretary of State’s office has broadened its focus to include teaching Hoosiers about financial literacy skills. Learn more at http://www.in.gov/sos/indianamoneywise/index.htm. Have a great Financial Literacy Month, and remember, you can never learn too much about your personal finances.
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*Securities and advisory services offered through Woodbury Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance services offered through Atled Financial Group 717 B Main Street Schererville, IN 46375 which is not affiliated with Woodbury Financial.