April is Financial Literacy month
By Pat Melgares, K-State Research and Extension news service
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Americans may view April as tax season, but Kansas State University family resource specialist Elizabeth Kiss says it can also be a springboard to plan for financial success.
In fact, in the U.S., April is recognized as Financial Literacy Month.
“The thing about money is it’s a process, right?” Kiss said. “It’s not one-and-done usually, and so a whole month gives us a chance to think about our money in different ways and to think about what actions we might take to use it wisely.”
Kiss said the U.S. Government’s Financial Education and Literacy Commission promotes five principles for Americans to keep in mind as they make day-to-day decisions about money and plan their financial goals.
- Earn. Make the most of what you earn by understanding your pay and benefits. For example, Kiss said, “we can talk about vacation pay or personal days off. If you’re not using those, that’s a benefit you’re leaving on the table and you’re not getting the rest and leisure that you’re eligible for.”
- Save and Invest. “It’s never too early to start saving for future goals,” whether they are short, medium or long term, Kiss said. She noted that those with retirement accounts should also routinely review their accounts to make sure they are on track to meet their goals.
- Protect. This includes making sure you have emergency savings, and that insurance plans provide adequate coverage for home, car and other property.
- Spend. Be sure you are getting good value for your purchases. Shop around and compare, especially on big purchases. “And we might make choices on some things we’re going to splurge on, and some things we’re going to be more frugal on, and that’s totally alright,” Kiss said. “It’s about balance.”
- Borrow. “Most of us have to borrow money to buy a house or other large purchase at some point,” Kiss said. Borrowing money and paying back loans helps to build credit. However, remember that borrowing money comes at price — paying interest. When you borrow, you repay the debt and pay interest.
“Everybody will manage their money differently, and these are principles – they’re not hard and fast rules,” Kiss said. “We can’t always stick to these principles depending on our circumstances.”
Kiss said parents should also consider discussing the family’s financial strategies with children, considering what is age appropriate. She and a colleague – child development specialist Bradford Wiles – have published a fact sheet, Through a Child’s Eyes, aimed at teaching children about earning, spending, sharing, borrowing and saving.
Kiss also recommends the publication, How Are You Doing? A Financial Checkup, available from the K-State Research and Extension bookstore. More information also is available at local extension offices in Kansas.