What you don’t know about money can hurt you. If you don’t know how to create a budget, fix a poor credit rating or invest in a 401(k) plan, you’re missing out on opportunities that improve your odds for financial stability and success.
Financial literacy — an understanding of credit, banking, savings and more — offers you the tools and information you need to improve your financial health and wellbeing. Here are just a few of the things that’ll be easier once you have it:
Establishing a budget. If you don’t know where all your money goes each month, you’re not alone. Find out how to create a budget and stick to it. It’s a fundamental step in money management.
Managing debt. Carrying some debt is normal, but too much debt can overwhelm your budget. Learn how to address your most expensive debt areas, particularly paying off high-interest credit cards.
Buying a home. A home is the single biggest purchase most people make in their lifetimes. Find out how to save for a down payment, obtain financing and understand the details of a mortgage so you can make the best decision about this major investment. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers information for potential buyers on its site.
Saving money. Whether you’re 16 or 60, knowing the best ways to save money will help you achieve your goals. Learn about basic savings accounts, retirement accounts, and how to make compounding interest work for you. Start with basic banking tips from CNNMoney’s Money 101 series.
Getting a loan. Whether you’re going back to school, buying a car or remodeling a room, you might need to take out a loan. How much can you really afford to borrow? Learn how your credit report has an impact on the availability and cost of a loan, and how to fit loan payments into your budget.
Planning for emergencies. We’ve all been faced with expenses that can’t be put off — the car needs a new transmission or the plumbing needs more extensive work than you were expecting. Find out how to plan ahead for these unwelcome surprises and keep your budget intact.
SOURCES FOR IMPROVING YOUR FINANCIAL LITERACY
• Go online to find resources that can help boost your financial knowledge. MyMoney.gov, for example, offers basic financial information gathered from a wide array of sources.
• Take a class or workshop about a financial topic that interests you, appropriate to your level of financial knowledge. State Farm® partners with programs around the country that promote financial education, including the State Farm Financial Literacy Lab at Florida International University.
• Financial professionals are in the business of helping people manage their money. The National Association of Professional Financial Advisors can help you find a professional in your area.
• Visit statefarm.com® to run the numbers. State Farm offers a variety of online financial calculators that can help you manage your money.