April is Financial Literacy Month. The initiative highlights the importance of financial literacy and having smart money management habits. Education around personal finance is as important now as ever.

Many people have an incomplete basic knowledge of topics like investing, budgeting, and credit. The TIAA Institute conducted a survey in 2022 on U.S. financial literacy, asking 28 basic questions about retirement savings, debt management, budgeting, and other financial matters. The average respondent answered only about half of the questions correctly.

Another survey conducted by the Census Bureau in 2023 found that almost 40% of Americans say that it has been somewhat or very difficult to pay for usual household expenses in the last seven days. Although having trouble paying bills is caused by a multitude of circumstances, it seems there is a link between a lack of financial literacy and being predisposed to facing financial hardship.

Financial success rarely happens by accident. Rather, it is typically the outcome of a journey that starts with education. It is often supplemented by good mentorship or role models, and it is always accompanied by discipline. Yet education is where it all starts.

The more informed we are, the more informed our financial decisions may become. Like gaining knowledge on any topic, this principle holds true whether we’re just beginning to learn about personal finance or we’re well-versed in the field. We all have something to learn, and we can all sharpen our understanding of how things work.

Fortunately, there is a wide range of resources to turn to in pursuit of learning. A host of books, podcasts, and internet sites will inform you of any personal finance topic under the sun. As with anything, just know the source of the information, and consider reading many perspectives on a topic.

Here are three of countless resources that might help someone get started:

MyMoney.gov – This website by the Financial Literacy and Education Commission offers articles and tools to sharpen basic financial literacy. You may search for educational articles by topic or by life event.

Investor.gov – This website by the Securities and Exchange Commission has resources that discuss and explain investing basics, including things to think about before investing and how investment products work. It also has financial tools and calculators.

Schwab.com/learn – Our firm’s primary account custodian is Charles Schwab & Co. Schwab offers a host of resources about personal finance and investing on this website. Their educational articles, blog posts, and podcasts discuss a range of interesting topics, ranging from budgeting to investing to retirement planning.

BCS Wealth Management’s podcast – Our team’s podcast, “The Benchmark,” aims to be approachable and informative about many finance and investing topics. Check it out at https://thebenchmark.podbean.com or through most podcast apps.

Let us know how we can help you, a friend, or a family member to become more comfortable with financial topics. This is our team’s passion. We’re grateful for the opportunity to help folks along their financial planning journey.

April 12, 2024

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