It is time to celebrate!
Because it’s Financial Literacy Month!
If you are jumping up and down, partying like it’s 1999, go ahead and have a seat. I need you to read the rest of this post.
In 2004, the government declared April to be Financial Literacy Month. In general, Americans struggle in the area of personal finances, and the goal was to encourage Americans to learn about and develop financially healthy habits. Currently, 78% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Forty percent are unable to cover a $400 emergency with cash. We can do better.
If you didn’t know it was Financial Literacy Month (how could you not?) or if you have yet to makes plans for how to celebrate such an important month, let me provide some suggestions.
1. Read The Money Challenge (or The Marriage Challenge). I know this seems self-serving, but I clearly believe in the content of these books. If you have never read a financial book before, don’t get intimated. Here are a few reviews to encourage you to give these books a chance:
“For those who want to tackle Dave Ramsey, but need a gateway drug. This book covers many of the same concepts, but quicker and in a more digestible fashion.” – Amazon.com review of The Money Challenge from Lee Brown
“I’ve read a LOT of books on finance and a lot of books on marriage. There are many good ones in both categories and a whole lot more not so good ones. This one ranks good in both categories. It’s an easy read and the “story” that goes along with the principles is an engaging one. The principles he suggests are sound and pretty easy to pull out and plan to implement in a couple’s life.” – Amazon.com review of The Marriage Challenge by A. Yen.
“This winsome approach along with the practical and helpful advice make this book an easy read and a great resource to introduce important financial concepts to those experiencing financial challenges or to prepare others to avoid them.” – Amazon.com review of The Money Challengefrom Bob Bickford
You can learn about, understand, and enjoy personal finances.
2. Figure out which Money Milestone you need to chase. In both of the above books, I discuss the 8 Money Milestones. They serve as a guide on your journey to experiencing the generous life God has designed you to live. For your reference, here they are:
- Milestone 1: Start giving.
- Milestone 2: Save $1,500 for a minor emergency.
- Milestone 3: Max out your 401(k) or 403(b) match.
- Milestone 4: Pay off all debt except your mortgage.
- Milestone 5: Save 3-6 months of living expenses for a job-loss level emergency.
- Milestone 6: Put 15% of your gross income to retirement.
- Milestone 7: Save for college or pay off your mortgage.
- Milestone 8: Live generously.
Identify where you are on the journey and the next Milestone you need to achieve.
3. Automate your giving and saving. One of the easiest ways to ensure you are consistently giving and saving is to automate each one. Set up monthly transfers from your checking account to your savings account. Have retirement contributions automatically deducted from your paycheck. And most importantly, set up automatic giving through your church. Use technology to your advantage.
4. Have a financial date night. If you are married, you need to discuss finances. Go out, grab some coffee, and talk money. If you are not sure how to get the conversation going, here are a few suggestions. Of course, you could always read The Marriage Challenge together and discuss its contents. Be unified in your finances.
Have a great Financial Literacy Month. Enjoy it for all its worth. After all, it only happens once a year.