Reading Your Wealth: 6 Ways to Improve Your Financial Literacy

financial literacy

If you’ve found your way to this article, chances are you’re likely feeling a bit overwhelmed or insecure about how you manage or have managed your finances. Let me reassure you, I’ve been advising people on their finances for close to 30 years, and most of my clients admit that they don’t fully understand their finances at some point. Don’t worry: you’re not alone.

Your financial literacy is an on-going process. Like learning to read, you’re not suddenly able to comprehend Shakespeare! You’ve got to start with Goldilocks and the Three Bears and gradually work your way into more difficult material.

Below are some tips to help you begin mastering certain financial skills and improving your overall financial literacy:

You’ve got to get started sometime!

As they say, better late than never. The fact that you’re here means you’re on the right track. Finding motivation is often the hardest part of learning something new or mastering a new skill. Staying focused and motivated through the process will certainly improve your chances of reaching the level of financial literacy you hope to achieve.

Know your financial objectives.

Or better yet, know thyself. As you begin your journey into financial literacy, spend some time considering and drawing up your personal financial goals. Once you have a clear picture of your financial objectives, you can begin to curate the sort of knowledge you hope to gain.

Isolate the issues.

Again, it’s helpful to spend some time specifically identifying the gaps in your financial knowledge.  Once you know what you don’t know, you’re better positioned to ask the right questions. Additionally, should you be the do-it-yourself type, you’ll have a better idea of what kinds of financial resources you’re looking for. Knowing this can also make the process of learning about your finances seem less daunting. Start small, lay a financial knowledge foundation, and build up from there.

Search for financial resources on the Web.

Now, I say that with extreme hesitation. While the internet is certainly an incredibly valuable tool for everything from vacation spots to vegan recipes, as far as financial resources, it’s important that you know up front, not all financial resources are equal.  While some are helpful, (like my posts for instance) most are downright bad advice. Again, as you begin to sift through resources on the Web, you’ll want to keep your goals in mind. What sort of information will be most useful in helping me achieve my goals? Asking this of yourself should begin to help you discern which resources are not for you, both in terms of content and quality.

When you start looking into Web resources, consider the source before relying on it. Unfortunately, after 30 years in this business I can confirm, just because the bigger names in financial journalism say it’s so…doesn’t necessarily make it so. Ask yourself, is the information factual or opinion based? The answer may surprise you. That being said, reading sites like Forbes or CNN Money can help you become familiar with the language of finance as well as many common phrases…providing a reference point as you continue researching.  

Listen to financial talk radio or podcasts.

As with the web, be very selective here. The airwaves are filled with endless financial talk radio shows and podcasts you can check out…some good, most not. However, if the objective is to increase your financial literacy, consider listening to them on your commute to or from work. Doing so may offer you some helpful financial perspectives you might not have otherwise encountered.

Consult a Certified Financial Planner (CFP ®).

Like I said earlier, financial literacy is a process, and sometimes you need some help along the way. A Certified Financial Planner, such as myself, (sorry, shameful self promotion) will be able to help you develop a clearer overview of your finances, sharpen your financial goals, and develop an objective strategy for achieving them. You could think of consulting a CFP® as personal tutoring for your financial literacy!

Should you be interested in improving your financial literacy by working with a CFP®, please visit our website.  Should we seem a good fit…let’s talk.


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