Financial capability is a life-long pursuit

April is National Financial Literacy Month.

In the January 2014 article “Are Michigan families financially fragile?” from Michigan State University Extension, it was stated that families in the United States have experienced what could be called a “new normal” – referring to our financial health as indicated by such things as our employment status, salaries and the value of our homes, emergency funds and retirement accounts. Many Michigan families continue to experience these readjustments to a different economic reality.

National Financial Literacy Month is recognized in the United States in April in an effort to highlight the importance of financial capability and provide Americans with tips, tools and other resources to enable households to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shares a few suggestions for making the most of Financial Literacy Month.

  • If you have young adults in your household, talk with them about the family budget. Specifically show them how you keep a spending plan (budget) and how you track income and expenses for the family.
  • Encourage kids to save a portion of their allowance to build a savings habit and learn to set and achieve financial goals. One technique is to provide them with $1 for each grade in school. Discussing what their allowance is to be used for is also important. For example, you may agree that you will provide $50 to purchase a pair of shoes and if your son or daughter would like a more expensive pair, he/she will need to use their allowance to make up the difference.
  • If you own a business or have the ability to make suggestions at your place of work, consider a program to make it easy for employees to save money. For example, start an automatic enrollment retirement plan.

Another helpful resource comes from the Financial Literacy and Education Commission. The Commission was given the task of developing a national financial education web site (MyMoney.gov) along with a hotline (1-888-My Money) and a national strategy on financial education. 

  • MyMoney.gov is the federal government’s website that serves as the one-stop shop for federal financial literacy and education programs, grants and other information. MyMoney.gov is available in English and Spanish.
  • 1-888-MyMoney is the federal government’s toll-free hotline accessible to the public seeking information about federal financial education materials. Information is available in English and Spanish.

Also, if you are wondering about your financial health, take a financial health survey from MI Money Health to get your financial health score! It is confidential and your answers never connect back to your name. This survey can help you evaluate your current financial situation, provide ideas on how you may improve your financial health, and connect you to resources in your local community.

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