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Financial Literacy: 5 Basic Topics You Need to Know

Time To Read 6 MIN READ

Did you know April is Financial Literacy Month? Designed to raise public awareness around financial education, the month isn’t just about improving our financial management skills. It’s about improving our well-being.

A 2018 study by FINRA Investor Education Foundation found that 53% percent of Americans feel anxious discussing their finances. In other words, money can really stress us out.

The study also discovered that American financial literacy is declining despite new efforts to offer financial education to high school and college students.

Still, it’s never too late to learn. The more you know, the easier it is to make good financial decisions and lower those anxiety levels.

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, here’s a round-up of financial literacy topics and articles that can boost your financial know-how and sharpen your money management skills. 

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Five key components of financial literacy

1. Budgeting: the cornerstone of financial literacy

Smart, real-life budgeting is the foundation of good money management. Whether you’ve been budgeting for years or you’re taking your first steps toward managing your spending habits, these articles can help.

Budget Calculator: Creating a budget is one of the best ways to set yourself up for financial success. Try our free budget calculator to take control of your personal finances, say goodbye to overdraft fees, and start saving for the future.

20 Average Monthly Expenses: Want to know what America spends on things like housing, food, and insurance? Here’s a list of 20 common expenses for your monthly budget and an average amount for each one to get you started.

Refining Your Budget: When life changes, your budget needs to keep up. This simple guide to changing your budget over time can help you navigate life’s financial changes.

Finding the Right Budgeting Software: Letting your computer crunch your budget for you can dramatically reduce your time and stress levels while giving you a clearer view of your finances. But not all budgeting tools are created equal. Here’s what you need to know.

2. Growing your savings

Understanding the finer points of saving is a key component of financial literacy. Here’s how to stash your cash and help it grow for a solid financial future.

Savings Benchmarks by Decade: How much should you have saved by now? That depends on your complete financial picture. Learn how to think about 3 kinds of savings and get solid financial benchmarks for every decade of your life.

Why You Need an Emergency Fund: When a Kiplinger contributing editor had to empty her bank account over a surprise tax bill, she knew things had to change. Discover the many benefits of a simple emergency fund and how to build one.

Six Types of Bank Accounts: From basic savings accounts, checking accounts, and debit cards to accounts that let you invest in the stock market and mutual funds, discover 6 great options for spending, saving, and investing.

Saving Ahead with Sinking Funds: Saving in advance for things like vacations or holiday gift-giving can help keep your budget on track. Finance blogger Lauren Tucker of An Organized Life shares how sinking funds are her secret weapon for guilt-free seasonal spending.

3. Managing debt

Learning how to manage debt is critical to long-term financial stability. These articles can help you pay off your debt faster — and recognize when that isn’t the best thing to do.

Simple vs Compound Interest: If you want to know more about the math behind your savings account, credit card debt, or loan payments, this explanation of simple and compound interest walks you through how it all works.

Paying off Student Loans: Want to pay off your student loans? By answering 5 simple questions you can design the perfect repayment plan for your needs, improve your financial position, and reach all your financial goals — with or without government relief.

Refinancing Your Mortgage: The right refinancing could lower your interest rate, reduce your monthly payments, provide cash for home improvements, or even reduce your high-interest debt. Here’s what you need to know before you sign on the dotted line.

Creating a Debt-Reduction Strategy: From calculating your debt-to-income ratio to weighing short-term and long-term options for your cash, this real-life guide walks you step-by-step through the process of creating your own personalized debt-reduction strategy.

Take control of your finances!
  • Get a consolidated view of your finances
  • Maximize your savings
  • Manage your money with confidence

4. Building your credit score

Want to get a better interest rate on your next loan? Or get a leg up on that job interview? Raise your credit score. These articles can help you understand your credit history and how credit scores work so you can improve your credit rating.

Taming Your Credit Score: Financial monsters like debt and credit scores don’t have to be scary. Learn how to tame them with this fun, light-hearted primer.

7 Steps from College to Financial Independence: Your credit score is just one benchmark in your financial journey. Navigate them all and make financial planning easy with this 7-step guide to financial freedom.

Building & Repairing Your Credit: Your credit report offers a snapshot of your financial health. Discover what lenders and credit card issuers are looking for, and learn how to improve your score effectively.

5. Investing & retirement planning

Building toward financial freedom isn't about luck. It’s about thoughtful retirement planning. Whether your retirement is still a long-term goal or you’re almost ready to claim Social Security, these articles can help you make the most of your nest egg.

Retirement Planning from Start to Finish: From saving for retirement through living in retirement, here’s how to take control of your financial security every step of the way.

Average 401k Balance by Age: Want to know how your 401k is doing compared to the national average? Find out here — with 9 extra factors that can make your retirement plan look a lot better and 9 key tips to help you reach your retirement goals.

Free Retirement Calculator: Will you have enough in your 401k or IRA when you reach retirement age? What if inflation decreases the value of money in your account? Use our free retirement calculator to explore the possibilities and plan ahead.

Recession-Proof Your Retirement: Instead of wondering when the next recession may strike, prepare for it. Here are 6 steps to shore up your financial situation.

How to Make Your Money Last in Retirement: Take 4 key steps before you retire and live by 9 simple principles after you retire to manage your retirement savings with confidence and enjoy all that life has to offer.

How can you improve your financial knowledge?

While April might be Financial Literacy Month, absorbing new financial concepts is a lifelong process. No matter your age or skill level, it’s never too early or too late to build your financial skills, your peace of mind, and your financial stability for a more secure financial future.

Personal budgeting software like the suite of products offered by Quicken can help you improve your financial decision-making and reach your financial goals with confidence.

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