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Financial Literacy Is the First Step to Financial Independence

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 22nd, 2009 3:12 PM |

Financial literacy does not guarantee financial independence but it is a necessary first step.

In a society which has undervalued thrift and prudent financial management, is it any wonder our country is woefully unprepared to help future generations become financially literate?

The goal of Sense on Cents is to help people navigate the economic landscape, from whatever point of departure on that landscape they may currently occupy.

The Medill Washington Program recently reported on challenges to improve financial literacy. From the article Financial Literacy Programs Face Uphill Climb:

“The economic crisis was caused by the fact that a lot of Americans lack basic financial literacy skills, which makes it difficult to make wise credit decisions, as was evidenced by the mortgage crisis and other areas of the overall economic crisis,” said Levine. “However, with the advent of the new presidency, also comes a new approach when it comes to undertaking the goal of increasing national financial literacy in schools. And the transition to this new approach takes time.”

Everett Hoffman, 22, of Staten Island, N.Y., wishes he had taken the elective of a personal financial education course in high school. He thinks it would have helped him make wiser spending choices.

“I think it might have been good because I’m learning a lot of things the hard way now being a young adult,” said Hoffman. “But I really do think taking that class might have helped me avoid some minor debit card issues I’ve been having lately, you know basics, like balancing a checkbook.”

Allison Joseph, 21, of Chesapeake, Va., also interviewed on the National Mall, said that her parents still shelter her from having to take care of her finances. She took a macroeconomics course in high school that did not cover personal finance.

“When I went to college, I started getting my own credit card statements, but my parents have always helped me out, so I’m not totally independent in that sense.”

Up to now, only three states require at least a one-semester course devoted to personal finance – Utah, Missouri and Tennessee. Eighteen other states require personal finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter. The rest have no requirements, but leave individual schools the choice to implement personal finance education programs in their curricula.

According to JumpStart, a personal financial education course would give students a head start at being less debt-prone by teaching them how to manage checkbooks, how mortgages work, and other basic financial life skills.

I will readily admit that the tone and tenor of my writing at Sense on Cents is not geared toward high school students, but certainly the Financial Primers in the right sidebar (Debt Management, Financial Aid, Insurance, Investing, Mortgage Finance) provide a wealth of information for anybody embarking down a financial path.

By the same token, I am heartened by the number of college students and recent college grads who have informed me how much they have learned and are learning from Sense on Cents.

Please spread the word and do not be bashful about asking me anything.

Financial literacy is the first step in becoming financially educated which is the path to becoming financially independent.

I am happy to help you navigate along the way.

LD






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