Financial Literacy is a worthy goal. To be financially literate is to understand how to manage money, which can mean the difference between struggling to survive and living comfortably. Unfortunately, many people around the world lack the skill to calculate discounts or even change owed from a purchase.
I believe that practical financial skills should be taught to schoolchildren: not just arithmetic, but how to save, how to budget, how to borrow, how to handle debt, and how to invest. Such skills can be taught not only in school but at home. For example, I earned an allowance as a child for helping with many household chores, but I was not paid in cash. Instead, my father recorded payments in a family bank, which was just a notebook with pages for each child’s account. (This was before the days of computer spreadsheets!) I could ask for cash at any time, but my father would add interest payments to the money I left in the bank. This demonstrates how money can grow just by being saved for future use.
Saving money is helpful not only because it can generate income such as interest payments, but because having emergency savings can help cover unexpected expenses (or loss of work) to avoid going into debt. Borrowing money means having to pay out interest instead of having it paid to you! Using a credit card without paying it off each month means everything is more expensive. For those who have never thought much about how to budget and save money, this article is a clear and useful outline of how to start.
There are many other sources intended to help us learn to manage money, including the government’s My Money Five website and the books shown below, which are available at the library. My own advice to start is to Look Before You Leap – or Think Before You Buy! Do you really need to purchase that item that tempts you? If so, is there a way to spend less for an equivalent, or time to wait for a sale? One way to save money is to spend less of it!
Websites provide plenty of tips for saving money. For example, here are 45 Pretty Easy Ways to Save Money. The Penny Hoarder includes links to many articles about money, such as 16 Simple Money Management Steps Anyone Can Take Today – however, these steps all involve using an app. Some apps can be used at public computers in your library, but for anyone struggling to save money, make sure the cost of a smartphone or home computer, plus monthly fees for internet access, are worth the expense!