The Importance of Financial Literacy

Student learns about personal finances
Being financially literate isn’t something you are born into or passively acquire as you get older. It is something that you have to actively learn. And it’s better to start now then to wait until it’s too late.

Everyone knows that the literacy rate is not where it should be but people do not usually stop to consider the problems associated with a lack of financial literacy. Think about it, if you do not understand the differences between a savings account and a CD then you will probably be met with some financial difficulties in the future (to put it mildly).

Unfortunately, far too many people graduate from high school without even the slightest bit of training in this area (according to a recent study, only 14 states require courses on financial literacy to be taught at the high school level). Not preparing for the future can hamstring your life in so many ways and the longer you wait to do something the less impact it necessarily has. In our recent post, Why Your Twenties Matter, we showed that your twenties are crucial years in your life because, statistically speaking, the choices you make in your twenties have more of an impact on your personal, professional and financial lives.

For example, according to Bankrate.com, if you start investing $2,000 per year starting when you are 25 then you will have about $560,000 in the bank once you reach 65 (assuming an 8% rate of return). However, if you don’t start saving $2,000 per year until you are 35 then you will only end up with about $245,000 at 65 (assuming an 8% rate of return again).

So, what are we really talking about here? I think the best way to answer that question is by quoting PBS’ quality site on this subject:

The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy defines personal financial literacy as “the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being.” (2008 Annual Report to the President)

Personal financial literacy is more than just being able to balance a checkbook, compare prices or get a job. It also includes skills like long-term vision and planning for the future, and the discipline to use those skills every day.

The PBS site is a repository of great information on the subject that can be useful to everyone. Within that site there are resources such as:

  • Help on planning for retirement
  • A wide array of financial calculators
  • Definitions of common words found in the financial sphere
  • There are even quizzes to test your absorption of the material

Another site you can look to for information on this subject is MyMoney.gov. From their site:

MyMoney.gov is the U.S. government’s website dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics about financial education. Whether you are buying a home, balancing your checkbook, or investing in your 401(k), the resources on MyMoney.gov can help you maximize your financial decisions. Throughout the site, you will find important information from more thanĀ 20 Federal agencies and Bureaus designed to help you make smart financial choices.

Recently, Center for Entrepreneurship Director and Professor John Bradley Jackson participated in a seminar hosted by the Center for Economic Education on campus to help people become more financially literate. Talking about how to formulate a business plan, Professor Jackson explained to those in attendance what the purpose of a business plan was, how to develop one and resources that they could use to help them in their business endeavors.

Center for Entrepreneurship Director John Bradley Jackson lectures on the importance of business plans to a group of people who are hard at work improving their financial literacy skills.

Center for Economic Education Director Dr. Radha Bhattacharya oversaw a full slate of presentations like Director Jackson’s. “Teaching Economics,” “The Stock Market Game and Personal finance” and “Future Financial Life” were just three of the other presentations given through this day of financial literacy bolstering. If you would like to know when the next event like this is going to happen please follow the Center for Economic Education and the Center for Entrepreneurship as well.

Published by CSUF Entrepreneurship

We teach, coach and lead the principled, cross-disciplinary practice of entrepreneurship. We believe that, through determined practice, leadership and team work, our students, faculty, clients, volunteers and alums can systematically recombine the new and the old to forge new ventures, create an entrepreneurial culture, and dramatically benefit our community.

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