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Five Tips for Financial Literacy Month

April is Financial Literacy Month, a time to raise awareness about the value of being financially literate. Poor financial literacy may lead to poor financial decisions, which can result in shortfalls of long-term financial goals. Below are a few suggestions to help improve your financial literacy and overall financial well-being.

Budget

One of the most beneficial ways to improve your financial literacy is by learning about the value of a budget and creating one yourself. When budgeting, consider your income the keystone for how much you spend each month. One popular budgeting strategy is the 50/20/30 budget, meaning 50% of your income goes to needs, 20% goes to savings, and 30% goes to wants. You can always tweak this budget strategy to fit your financial goals. If you’re having trouble sticking to a budget, tell your financial goals to a friend or loved one. Having someone to hold you accountable for spending outside your budget may help you better achieve financial nirvana. 

Live within your means

In that same light, living within your means is another way to improve your overall financial well-being. While it’s alright to make the occasional unnecessary expense (we’re all human, after all), try to avoid these expenditures as much as possible by adopting smart buying habits. An excellent way to do so is by separating wants from needs. While you may enjoy going out to eat, for example, that is a want. Groceries, on the other hand, are a need (although some grocery expenditures, like sweets or alcohol, may be considered wants). In addition to budgeting, an easy way to ensure you’re living within your means is by checking your net worth, or the difference between how much money you have and how much you owe. If this value is in the negatives, you’re not living within your means which could result in you falling into debt. If you find yourself going into debt, consolidate it as quickly as possible!

Plan

Good financial planning equates to good financial literacy. If you’re expecting a large expenditure in the near future, like a vacation or vehicle repair bill, planning for it is key. Planning and budgeting go hand-in-hand, and when planning for a large expense, it's best to tweak your budget as you see fit. A great method of planning and saving for large expenses is by automatically deducting funds from your paycheck, as some employers and financial institutions can do this. After all, out of sight is out of mind.

Invest

There are numerous investment types out there, from stocks to low-risk options and more. Although some pose higher risks than others, all investment types have the potential to help you increase your income and overall financial literacy. A tried and true money lesson is that sometimes, you have to spend money to make money, especially with investments. The sooner you invest, the more time you have to make your money grow. Likewise, the sooner you educate yourself on investing, the quicker you will become more financially literate. 

Use or Lose Subscriptions

An often overlooked lesson when it comes to being financially literate is that of subscription services. If you have a subscription-based account with recurring payments, use it as much as possible! If you don’t use the subscription service enough, or feel like you’re not getting your money’s worth out of it, it’s best to cancel your services. If you still want to keep your account, even if you don’t often use it, read the fine print of your subscription agreement - you might be able to receive extra benefits or save money. Sometimes, people with recurring subscription payments don’t realize they have a subscription service to begin with. To ensure you’re not spending money on something you don’t use, it’s smart to review your bank statements. 

Money plays into nearly every aspect of our lives, from relationships to lifestyles to where we live. That said, it’s always wise to educate yourself on topics surrounding money. Setting aside a few minutes every week to read about or watch videos on financial topics is a great way to improve financial literacy. Gulf Winds’ Save.Spend.Live blog is a great way to start!


Hunter Morrison

Hunter Morrison

About Hunter Morrison

Hunter has freelanced for various print and radio publications across Northwest Florida, including The Bay Beacon, Navarre Press, Inweekly, Crestview News Bulletin, and WUWF. He was also the Editor in Chief of the University of West Florida’s student newspaper, The Voyager. In 2023, Hunter moved to Kenai, Alaska to take up a news reporting position with KDLL Public Radio. For fun, Hunter enjoys cross-country skiing, hiking, photography, thrifting, traveling, and looking for the best Thai food around. 

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