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Financial Literacy Month: Get Your Finances on Track

April is Financial Literacy Month, a time of year that encourages everyone to take the time to learn important financial skills, so they can improve their own fiscal wellness. During Financial Literacy Month, it’s a great opportunity to seek out tips, tutorials, and guides to help you brush up on your knowledge of key financial management concepts. 

What Is Financial Literacy Month?
April is Financial Literacy Month which is dedicated to helping educate people on key aspects of financial health and help them work toward making better financial decisions. Financial Literacy Month is a good opportunity to practice improving your finances through budgeting, setting savings goals, and more.

In this post, we’ll provide some tips for making the most of Financial Literacy Month, goals you can set for yourself moving forward, and other resources from Mint that you can utilize on your journey to financial wellness. Keep reading to start growing your financial awareness now or you can use the links below to go straight to the section that interests you most.

What Is Financial Literacy Month?

Tips for Improving Your Finances During Financial LIteracy Month

Why Is Financial Literacy Important?

Goals to Set for Financial Literacy Month

Take Charge of Your Finances This April

What Is Financial Literacy Month?

Financial Literacy Month is a month dedicated to educating people about essential aspects of their finances and helping them grow their financial skills. Financial Literacy Month is the perfect time to reflect on our money habits and make improvements where you can. If you’re reading this, you’re already on your way to making good use of this month.

Financial Literacy month was originally campaigned by Jump$tart Coalition and their organization partners to teach and increase financial knowledge, starting with the nation’s youth. A bill was passed  in 2004 by the United States House of Representatives to support the goals of Financial Literacy Awareness Month through the federal government, schools, localities, and non-profit organizations. 

While it promotes learning about finances, it’s also a challenge for those to make changes to their current personal finances to greater benefits for the future. It aims to engage those who may be missing some key skills of financial literacy, so they are able to handle their finances with confidence. 

When Is Financial Literacy Month?

National Financial Literacy Month is in April and was first recognized in 2004. It’s encouraged during the whole month that everyone sets aside time to work on their finances. This can be reading up on tips, learning new financial skills like how to make a budget, or setting goals for the future based on the latest financial advice—or even all three.

Tips for Improving Your Finances During Financial Literacy Month

If you ever wished for an easier way to figure out what you should do to improve your financial health– flex your personal finance muscles this month and check out some of these tips below.

Set a budget

First things first. This is the starting point for every other goal in your life. You can’t make progress if you don’t know where your money is going each month. Compile a list of your debts and calculate your income.

Try rethinking the way you budget. Take stock of what you’re paying each month for small things like magazines, software, and online-service subscriptions, for example. Decide what you really need and what you can live without. Consider cooking your own meals or switching to generic products when you buy groceries.

Know your DTI

Debt to Income ratio or DTI is your total monthly financial obligations – or debt – divided by your total take-home pay. This includes your rent and any outstanding loans – including student loans. Basically, are you living within your means? We know, yuck.

Then, put together a budget that includes your monthly spending.

To make sure you’re being honest, print and look at your statements from the last few months — including debit and credit cards. 

HERE’S A PRO TIP: factor in expenses that don’t happen every month, like your annual Amazon Prime membership. It’s hidden money that you’re spending, even if it is only once a year. 

If you have no idea what your DTI is, don’t stress. You can easily calculate it following these steps. Once yours is calculated you can gauge where changes need to be made. The recommended debt-to-income ratio is 43% or lower.

Kick your credit into shape

Credit is a critical part of your financial picture. It represents how reliable a borrower you are, how well (or poorly) you manage your debt. So do you know what your number is?

If not, you can use the Mint app and they’ll help you get your score, understand what your score means, show you how to raise your credit score, and help you keep your credit safe. The best part? It’s free.

Pop quiz: Will checking your credit report hurt your credit score?

The simple answer. No. If It’s a soft inquiry and more of a routine credit check that doesn’t need to be done with your permission.

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Auto-save when you get paid

Money money money. There’s nothing like a huge chunk of money hitting your account during payday. So what are you going to do with it? A night in the town with your girls? Maybe you’ll buy that new bag you’ve been eyeing? Better yet, pay your rent?

Here’s the problem: The danger lies in having a lump sum of cash in a single account. Because if you have, say $3,000 in your checking, chances are you’ll spend all of it.  

Pro tip: Divide your paycheck toward your savings goals. Your paydays are when you have the most money to work with. Use that power to allocate your earnings where you see fit. Set up an auto transfer to pay off my student debt, different savings goals,  an emergency fund, vacation fund, and for retirement. When you pay yourself first, your future self will thank you in the long run. 

Figure out your daily spend number  

I will be the first to admit this, I actually loathe making money decisions on a daily basis. What I do instead is figure out this information on a monthly basis so I know how much I can roughly spend each day on discretionary stuff. That way all my bills and saving goals are accounted for.  

Let’s be honest there is nothing more annoying than deciding if you can afford that lunch out or that fancy wine at the bar. That daily number keeps me on track. You can also check your balance and goals on the Mint app to make sure you’re not overspending.  

Start an emergency fund

Let’s hope there is never an emergency, but by stashing some money away for an unforeseen emergency can make you feel more secure. According to FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s survey, 46% of people in the U.S. lack a rainy day fund. If you’re one of those people, there’s no better time to start preparing than now—after all, you never know when an emergency might strike. Experts say you should have three-to-six months’ worth of savings in an emergency savings fund.

Even putting away small amounts of money on a monthly basis can help. This could help build your savings passively over time. You can automate so that money transfers directly from your paycheck into your savings account, or use mobile alerts as reminders.

Consider side hustles

In this day and age, if you don’t have multiple sources of income you are just getting by. The era of working one job your entire life is over, and when it comes to finding ways to make extra money on the side, millennials are very creative with their side hustles and investments. Some side hustles pay well and some are passion projects, but let’s face it, anyone who does this in their free time knows how empowering it can be to have a cushion in your bank account.

Here are some side hustles that can help you make money ASAP.

Savings and retirement

The beauty of setting your finances on autopilot: If you can’t see it, you won’t spend it. Auto-saving means fewer decisions you have to make about your money.

Here are some options: Putting savings in a post-tax Roth or pre-tax traditional IRA. or if you’re self-employed a SEP IR.  I auto-transfer a set amount into my IRA each month.

If your workplace has an employer-sponsored retirement option, such as a 401(k) plan, save as much as you can. Because the money will come directly out of your paycheck, chances are you’ll hardly even notice it. If your employer offers a matching contribution, aim to contribute at least enough to get the full match.

Why Is Financial Literacy Important?

Financial literacy is having a working knowledge of money management. Financial literacy is essential for everyone because it’s a cornerstone of a stable financial future. Without knowledge of essential financial skills, like how to budget, invest, and prepare for retirement, life can become much more difficult.

We all know that finances are hard. And, in current times, they may even seem impossible to get a true handle on.  According to a Pew Research Center survey, one in ten people whose financial situation had gotten worse during the pandemic didn’t think their finances would ever recover. However, partaking in Financial Literacy Month can get you on the right track.

Taking the time to prioritize financial literacy empowers you to take advantage of free resources and improve your financial situation right now and in the future.

Goals to Set for Financial Literacy Month

Maybe you feel like you have a lot you need to improve when it comes to money management. That’s okay, but it’s important not to overwhelm yourself. Instead, you want to focus on a few key aspects at a time. That way, you can make real, sustainable change.  Here are a few goals you can start working on during Financial Literacy Month:

  • Create a budget 
    • Knowing how much you have coming in versus how much money you have going out can help you understand where you can make changes to your spending to put you in a better financial position.
  • Cut unnecessary expenses
    • Have some random gym membership to a place you haven’t stepped foot in? Have four TV apps but only use your favorite? It may be time to end the subscriptions. Look into other services you are charged each month and decide what is essential to your daily lifestyle. There will be places you can cut out and in turn, reallocate that money to something more important. 
  • See if you’re on track for your retirement goals 
    • Once they begin working, most Americans begin adding to their 401k. However, the most important question is are you saving enough? Use our retirement calculator to see if you’re on track to retire or if you need to reprioritize.
  • Check your credit score 
    • Your credit score is an essential component of your credit profile and can play a major role in getting loans, housing, and more. Look into your credit score to see where you fall and if it’s not as high as you want it to be, work on a plan to improve it, like paying off some of your debt.

These goals might seem lofty, but with tools like the Mint app, you’ll be much better equipped to achieve them. In the app, you can track your spending, savings, investments, and more—all from your phone.

Take Charge of Your Finances This April

National Financial Literacy Month is a time for everyone to delve into learning more about their personal finances and ways to better them. It does not matter how much or how little experience you have navigating the treacherous waters of personal finance. There is always something that you can learn that will make it easier for you to protect your savings and get more out of your finances. With the Mint app, you can start off on the right foot toward improve your finances and preparing for a successful future.

Check out more resources for improving your finances:
Practice better financial management with these tips.
Set goals and take these steps toward financial wellness.
Use our free financial calculators.
Try these budgeting tools.

Sources: Congress.gov | Consumer Protection Financial Bureau | FINRA® Investor Education FoundationJump$tart Coalition | National Today  

The post Financial Literacy Month: Get Your Finances on Track appeared first on MintLife Blog.

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