Day 4 – Get A FREE Financial Education


It’s Day 4! How’s your month going so far? Are you feeling good about the plan you created for you future?

Today’s 31 Days To Your Financial Future task is an important one: we’re going to get a financial education! Financial literacy is one of the biggest hurdles in America today. The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy defines personal financial literacy as:

Financial Literacy: “Knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being.”

So where do you learn those skills? Well, unfortunately, probably not in school. Here’s some sobering statistics:

  • Only 13 states require a personal finance course to graduate, and only 14 states require that such a course be offered at all.
  • 99% of adults agree personal finance should be taught in school, according to a poll sponsored by Bank of America.
  • 89% of K-12 teachers feel students should be required to take a financial education course.
  • But 80% of K-12 teachers don’t feel qualified to provide that financial education.
  • According to a study by Sallie Mae, 84 percent of high school students wished their school offered more financial education.

Whether you wanted it or not, there’s a good chance school didn’t equip you with a solid financial education. It might be part of the reason why the average American is $47,000 in debt.

If you learned about money at all, you probably learned from your parents. Unfortunately, if your parents weren’t the best financial role models, this might do more harm than good. Whether your parents taught you bad money skills — or simply didn’t teach you anything about money at all — you’ve found yourself thrown into adulthood scrambling to learn how to manage your money, with no clear resources to turn to.

Let’s fix that today.

Anything Worth Knowing Can Be Found In A Book

Pick up a personal finance book today. You’ve probably got a few taking up space around the house that you bought, but never started reading. You can start with one of those. If you don’t own any books on finance or money, pop into your local library and see what they have to offer. (If they don’t have much, talk to the librarian and request some.)

If you aren’t sure what to start with, try one of these 25 fantastic personal finance books.

If you’d rather read electronically, here are 30 of the best free personal finance ebooks.

Now here’s the kicker. When you finish that book, starting reading another.

The goal here is to give you more than just a cursory idea of how money works. You want to completely understand money. You do that by not just reading personal finance how-to guides, but also by:

  • Reading about people who were successful at money.
  • Reading about people who failed at money.
  • Reading good financial advice, and absorb it.
  • Reading bad financial advice, so you’ll know how to recognize it.
  • Reading about how people spend money, make money, save money, invest money, and waste money.
  • Reading about the economy, advertising, consumerism, minimalism, and ownership.

Does that sound daunting? It doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to know this stuff overnight, and you’ll never know all there is to know. The important thing is that you constantly expand your field of financial knowledge, so you can make the most informed decisions when it comes to the money you make and the money you spend.

One last thing about reading: don’t tell me you don’t have time to read. If you have 15 minutes a day, you have time to read. If all else fails, do the old fashioned thing and take a book with you to the bathroom.

My 25 Favorite Finance Blogs

The Internet is the great source of education the world has ever known. Any topic you want to learn about is being talked about at length by hundreds of smart, incredible people. Here are some of my favorite money blogs.

Some of them are people who are in debt. Some got themselves out of debt already. Some are retiring ludicrously early. Some are still working towards that.

All of them are awesome. Go show them some love.

Sick of Reading? Find Something to Watch

Okay, okay, I’ll give you a break from reading. But we’re not done pouring finance smarts into your brain. There are some really fantastic personal finance video series out there. It’s almost like attending the entire personal finance course your high school never offered.

Investopedia has tons of great videos on finance topics like:

Click here to check out Investopedia’s full personal finance video library.

Khan Academy is one of my favorite online learning sites. They’ve got a great selection of personal finance videos to teach you about Roth IRAs, Open-Ended Mutual Funds, Compound Interest, Bankruptcy and a whole lot more. Here’s a playlist of some of their best videos:

Find a Financial Mentor!

If you want to make sound financial decisions, you need to find sound financial advice. Go out and find someone to act as your financial mentor. Ask them questions about finance matters you don’t understand. Explain your money worries to them, and work with them to find solutions. Bounce ideas off them, or ask for their opinion before you make a big decision like buying a home, changing jobs, or investing.

This person could be a professional financial planner or advisor that you hire. It could be a personal finance blogger that you admire. I could even just be that one friend or family member you know who totally rocks with money. The important part is that you want to make sure this person knows their stuff and is in a position to give you good advice.

Yesterday, I quoted from The Millionaire Next Door, and I’m going to do that again. One section of the book talks about a Mr. Martin, a millionaire, who has a unique way of vetting brokers who want him to hire them to invest his money:

Then I tell him, “So, you’re really good. Well, I’ll tell you what. Send me a copy of your personal income tax returns from the last few years, and a list of what you have had in your own portfolio for the last three years. If you made more money than I did from investments, I’ll invest with you.

Maybe that’s a bit too invasive when it comes to checking out a mentor, especially if you aren’t paying them, but it’s something to think about. You want to be mentored by someone doing better than you.

Tomorrow: Introduce Yourself To Someone Who Can Help You Achieve Your Dream

Tomorrow, we’re going to do some networking! You might be able to achieve your financial future on your own…but it’ll be a whole lot easier if you can do it with some help. We’ll talk about reaching out to the people who can help you, even if you’ve never met them (and aren’t sure how).

What’s on your reading list?

Have you read any good personal finance books lately? Seen a great blog or video you want to share? Tell me about it in the comments!

Click here to read Day 5!


Posted in 31 Days To Your Financial Future