Financial literacy is probably one of life’s most valuable skills. In fact, improving financial literacy is seen by governments as critical. It’s so important, that I’ve noticed these ads appearing in the local paper:
Which totally inspired me to attend amongst an imaginary room full of socked and sandaled near-retirees. As useful as those seminars may be, they’re no place for a self respecting 30 something. It’s a small understatement to suggest that financial literacy has an image problem. It’s seriously not sexy. Just compare it to the credit card ads:
Financial Literacy Image Makeover
Financial literacy is actually sexy, because it provides power and control over your money. It makes you the superhero of your own life. You can start to make positive choices for you, not for the marketing machine that wants you to buy the next must have thing.
This result is:
- Less stress;
- Ability to make more positive choices;
- A better work/life balance;
- More fun and ability to enjoy your income.
Financial literacy is also an offset against the power of marketing. Basically, it tries to prevent you from making mistakes with your money. But the marketing is BORING with black and white government ads, budgeting and lots of talk about retirement savings. Not exactly engaging stuff. No wonder credit card debt in Australia is around the $32 billion mark. Yes, billion. That’s how much Australia spends on defence. The interest on that debt is around $5.5 billion.
Interestingly, Australians are already very confident in their ability to manage money. But confidence does not always correlate with good management skills if our credit card debt is anything to go by. The trouble is that according to a survey done by the Financial Literacy Foundation, stress and discomfort, boredom and disinterest, and personal relevance and procrastination, are commonly held attitudes and beliefs when it comes to managing money.
Fair enough. The process of getting control of your finances might not be totally awesome, just like every other big goal in life really. But the outcome, just like every other big goal in life really, is. It just needs a good marketing campaign. Maybe a few images. Something that is motivating enough to put the time and effort into becoming financially literate and managing your money. How about….
Hmm, an empty box. That’s financial freedom? Well, yes. Financial freedom is about choice. How do you want to fill in that blank? By travelling. Working part time so you have more time to spend with your kids. Starting your own business. Retiring. It’s your dream. But it all starts with financial literacy.
The Virtual Classroom
If you slept through Financial Literacy 101 in school (did that exist?) or your parents never sat you down to have ‘the talk’ about mortgages, debt and savings you’re not alone. A family friend in his mid-twenties recently ‘confirmed’ with his dad that home loans don’t incur interest.
We’re very fortunate to live in the digital age, where we can enter the digital classroom in our pyjamas, glass of wine in hand and ask stupid questions from behind a suitable alias. If you need to brush up on your financial literacy or just get an ego boost, then a free online course might be the best end of year present to yourself. Here’s a few good one’s:
And my favourite book of all time is the Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape (Affiliate link). It’s such a simple straightforward non confusing book that tells it like it is. It’s made an awesome gift on several occasions. What can be more valuable than giving a friend knowledge to take charge of their finances?
If you are really struggling with money problems, a free financial counsellor may be able to help you budget. For further information check out ASIC Money Smart.
Do you feel financially literate? Where did you learn financial literacy?