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7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Financial Literacy


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Did you know that only one-third of adults surveyed could answer four out of five financial literacy questions about basic concepts such as interest, mortgages, inflation, and investment risk? That’s according to “U.S. National Strategy for Financial Literacy 2020,” a report from the U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission.

If “financial literacy” sounds like a lofty goal only the most brilliant people can achieve, put that idea out of your mind right now. The official-sounding term also includes understanding everyday skills you need to create a budget, get an auto or mortgage loan, make smart credit card and investment choices and plan for retirement.

Fortunately, boning up on financial literacy skills is fairly easy, thanks to the wide assortment of online and other resources available.

1. Government resources

You can find factual information and money advice on several credible government sites. To get started, check out MyMoney.gov from the Federal Financial Literacy and Education Commission, Investor.gov from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and additional information from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Looking for information on buying and owning a home? Take this free homeownership course offered by FreddieMac.

2. Podcasts

What could be easier than listening to personal finance tips on the way to work each morning or during a lengthy road trip? There’s no shortage of podcasts out there about how to budget, how interest rates work, investing, paying off debt, retirement planning strategies, and other financial literacy topics.

Perform an online search for personal finance podcasts to find one that suits your needs. Or, get started by choosing from a ready-made selection of podcasts such as this list compiled by U.S. News & World Report.

3. YouTube

Prefer to watch a video of someone telling you how to budget, improve your credit, track spending, find ways to cut expenses, get the best loan terms, plan for retirement or come up with a plan to achieve your financial goals? You’ll find hundreds of YouTube videos posted by financial planners and advisors, personal finance sites, banks, and investment firms, along with self-proclaimed “experts” few people have heard of.

Be careful, though. Any guy living in his Mom’s basement or woman with a stack of off-camera bills, repossession, and foreclosure notices can claim to be a personal finance guru. Always verify information gleaned from online videos using credible sources such as government websites or articles published by well-known and respected companies or personal financial experts.

4. Personal finance sites

It’s easy to educate yourself on financial literacy by reading online articles about budgeting, debt, loan interest rates, banks and credit unions, and using credit cards wisely. And the good news is you could start right now and probably never run out of available articles.

But don’t overwhelm yourself. Set a goal to read just one personal finance article a day. Most personal finance articles are only about a ten-minute read. If you want more information, they’re a good place to start before digging deeper.

Find out: 5 Personal Finance Bloggers Share What Motivates Them to Educate Others

5. Use money management apps

Some of the free (or nominal fee) budgeting and saving apps available also offer advice on saving, cutting expenses, and paying bills based on your budget. Some also monitor subscriptions, spending patterns, and income. These apps help you take control of your finance and develop financial literacy. It’s simple to download money management and budgeting apps to your phone or laptop, too.

However, don’t just download the first app you come across. First, read online reviews. Look the company up at the Better Business Bureau, and evaluate which app would work best for your financial goals.

Find out: 5 Fun Money Management Apps to Help Build Emergency Savings

6. Meet with a credit counselor

Meeting with a credit counselor at a free or nominal-fee nonprofit credit counseling agency can help you identify and improve personal finance issues, such as budgeting, along with understanding how debt works and the best ways to pay it off.

Find out: What is Credit Counseling and How Does it Work?

7. Complete a financial literacy course

Many nonprofit credit counseling agencies also offer online or in-person courses on becoming a homebuyer, establishing or repairing credit, bankruptcy, reverse mortgages, and debt management.

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