In a Presidential Proclamation on March 31, 2011, President Obama established April as Financial Literacy Month, urging all Americans to use the month toward activities that will enhance their understanding of everyday financial principles and habits. The President responding to the devastating Wall Street meltdown, wanted American families to become more informed to allow them to make better financial decisions in their lives. What will you do during Financial Literacy Month 2012?
A good place to start is www.mymoney.gov. There are 22 Federal Agencies that have collaborated to create and provide unbiased information about any financial area starting with creating a simple budget or spending plan. I too, recommend that financial literacy start with the basics. Even in the most comprehensive financial plans, it is first important to find out about your money – where it comes from, and how you spend it. How you spend it, most often times leads to the area of credit and debt. Irresponsible use or lack of understanding credit and debt can derail any future goals you may have, such as planning for retirement or obtaining a future mortgage. And knowing your credit score is essential.
With the launch of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, www.cfpb.gov consumers now have a resource to learn more about credit. The bureau’s Know Before You Owe program allows you to learn about credit cards, mortgages and student loans. The bureau also offers consumers the opportunity to file a complaint should you need assistance on a financial issue. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is also a good source through the website’s Financial Literacy Resource Directory.
Getting a good understanding of your money and how you spend it is an important first step to your own personal financial literacy, but don’t forget your own “personal” resources of information. Take this month to review and get a good understanding of your own bank statements and the fees associated with your accounts. Review you retirement plan statements or online resources and get educated about the investment options available to you. Finally a good source for all things financial is the Financial Planning Association’s own consumer website, www.FPAnet.org. There you can ask a financial question that is specific to your own personal situation.
There is a treasure trove of information available to the consumer who is committed to being financially educated. As we begin Financial Literacy Month 2012, start at the beginning and fully learn about your own personal finances. Improving your financial literacy is a good investment in yourself and your financial future.
Pamela Sandy, CFP®
CONFIANCE, LLC, Financial & Investment Advisors