April is National Financial Literacy Month

Monday, April 07 at 08:50 AM
Category: Personal Finance

In March 2011 President Obama issued a proclamation establishing April of each year as National Financial Literacy Month in an effort to highlight the importance of financial literacy and teach Americans how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.

Basically, financial literacy is the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage one's financial resources effectively for lifetime financial security. Taken further, it is a dynamic understanding of finances and the economy, enabling each individual to respond effectively to ever-changing personal and economic circumstances. Lois Vitt of the Institute for Socio-Financial Studies* defines financial literacy somewhat more comprehensively:

"Personal financial literacy is the ability to read, analyze, manage and write about the personal financial conditions that affect material well-being. It includes the ability to discern financial choices, discuss money and financial issues without (or despite) discomfort, plan for the future, and respond competently to life events that affect every day financial decisions, including events in the general economy."

Recognition of the need to improve the financial literacy of many Americans surfaced as a result of the recent economic crisis in this country and around the world. Many consumers might not have been as adversely impacted if they had had a better understanding of the economy and their own financial circumstances, and had made the necessary preparations to protect themselves. As stated in the President's proclamation:

"Americans' ability to build a secure future for themselves and their families requires the navigation of an increasingly complex financial system. As we recover from the worst economic crisis in generations, it is more important than ever to be knowledgeable about the consequences of our financial decisions. During National Financial Literacy Month, we recommit to improving financial literacy and ensuring all Americans have access to trustworthy financial services and products ... Preventing a recurrence will require both better behavior and oversight on Wall Street and more informed decision making on Main Street and in homes across our country. To lay the foundation for continued prosperity, we must expand the availability of financial products and services that are fair, affordable, understandable, and reliable. We must also strive to ensure all Americans have the skills to manage their fiscal resources effectively and avoid deceptive or predatory practices."

During National Financial Literacy Month, government agencies, private organizations and community groups make a concerted effort to raise consumers' awareness about the benefits of learning more about their financial matters. The National Endowment for Financial Education* and Money Management International* are two non-profit groups which offer consumers free webinars, worksheets, tips and tools for financial well-being.

During Financial Literacy Month take advantage of financial education opportunities being offered. Make a pledge to yourself that you are ready, willing and able to take responsibility for your financial future. It is the first step towards achieving financial health.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Tags: Financial Education
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