Regardless of what you do or how much you earn, you deal with money on a daily basis. The more you understand about finances, the more effectively you will be able to manage yours.
Yet, many people lack financial literacy skills. One study of 15-year-olds found that 18% had not learned fundamental financial skills to use in everyday life, like comparison shopping and creating a budget.1 This lack of knowledge may carry over into adulthood. These five, proactive strategies may offer you financial guidance and help you improve your financial awareness.
#1: Tune in to a Podcast on Financial Topics
Podcasts can help you improve your financial awareness while you're driving to work, jogging, or cleaning the house. For example, Millennial Money, a podcast designed for young adults and the age 40ish crowd, interviews financial experts on topics ranging from getting out of debt to negotiating a higher salary. Another podcast that was originally an NPR radio show, Planet Money, takes a broader focus and discusses the global context of finances. Sample a few financial podcasts, and your streaming service will give you recommendations for more.
#2: Participate in Financial Webinars and Workshops
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers a range of tools and resources to help individuals gain more insight into financial decision-making, including audio recordings, handouts, and worksheets. It also holds financial webinars and workshops online and offers financial education discussion groups on LinkedIn for consumers to gather financial knowledge from their peers.2
#3: Manage Your Own Finances
Managing your own finances is a significant way to gain awareness of your financial health. Develop a better understanding of your investments by talking to a financial professional, and learn where you spend your money by creating a budget. A budget might help you with planning for large purchases or controlling impulse buys that may inadvertently create financial limitations. You can download a budgeting app to help you understand more about your finances or get assistance from a financial professional.
#4: Read a Book
Dozens of books exist that provide valuable data to help you understand important financial topics. Great for beginners, "Personal Finance for Dummies" by Eric Tyson covers the basics of budgeting and investing and works as a primer for initial financial awareness. The bestseller "Your Money or Your Life" by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez can teach you how to save and enjoy your life. For a deeper understanding of your relationship with money, you might want to read "The Psychology of Money" by Morgan Housel. There are hundreds of great finance books. You might ask a financial professional for more recommendations.
#5: Subscribe to a Magazine
If you do not have the bandwidth for a book, you might consider subscribing to a magazine. Kiplinger's is the only mail delivery magazine devoted to personal finance right now, and it also has an online site. This is a great place to start for the everyday investor.
For a high-level overview of how politics, finances, and economics work together, The Economist offers long-form articles on these topics and will challenge your mind. Websites such as Bankrate and Investopedia can help you review financial concepts if you are looking for a free, online option.
While numerous tools exist to help you improve your financial awareness, it takes your dedicated effort to get the information you need to make informed decisions. Working with a financial professional is one way to help you analyze areas of concern and potentially create a path for overcoming debt and building wealth.