Are you financially literate?
Knowledge is key to controlling your finances
Whether it’s good, bad, or somewhere in between, everyone has a unique financial situation. How well do you know yours? The more you know about money, the more empowered you are to manage yours well.
“Financial literacy” refers to the knowledge and skills necessary to manage your finances effectively. Like any other complex skill set, financial literacy develops gradually over time. It’s strengthened as you work at it and apply what you’ve learned. Becoming financially literate is an ongoing process with no fixed starting or ending point.
In fact, your financial literacy journey almost certainly started long ago — probably without you even knowing it. When you learned the difference between a penny and a nickel, for example, that was a fundamental step toward financial literacy.
As you grew older and began saving money from an allowance or summer job, your financial goals probably grew and changed as well. Initially, you may have spent your money quickly on candy or small toys. Later, you learned to save up by forgoing these smaller rewards in favor of something bigger: a bike, a video game system — and eventually perhaps a car, college tuition, or a down payment for a home.
You can continue to develop your financial literacy throughout your life, building on what you’ve learned and adding new skills. This will allow you to gradually improve your financial flexibility by learning to use your money more efficiently and strategically. It may help to think of it as a process of “leveling up” through the following stages of financial literacy:
- Basic — Paying your bills on time and keeping your debts manageable.
- Intermediate — All of the above, plus putting some money away for savings.
- Advanced — All of the above, plus budgeting specifically for necessities, wants, and savings.
- Expert — All of the above, plus investing to generate additional income.
Of course, financial literacy at any stage involves far more than the basic elements outlined above, and there is plenty of overlap. Other aspects of financial literacy include paying off debt, tracking your expenses, and maintaining a healthy debt-to-income ratio. But no matter where you are on your financial literacy journey — whether you’re just getting started or already an expert — the keys to success are planning, goal setting, and commitment.
The information provided here is general in nature and may not apply to your specific situation.
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