America’s financial literacy report card is nothing to brag about. Only 57 percent of Americans got a passing grade on financial literacy, according to a new Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services Global Financial Literacy Survey.
If you think you’re not smarter than a fifth-grader when it comes to finances, here’s what to do for yourself and your family to get an A+.
Know where you are: Write out your fixed and variable expenses, and compare them with your income. Is there a surplus or deficit? Create a plan to pay off debt, says Rocco Carriero, an Ameriprise private wealth adviser in Southampton. Move forward. Make important steps like automating savings. “Find three potential supplemental income sources. Cutting your budget will only get you so far,” says Robert Wilson, a financial adviser with Wilson Insight in Pittsburgh.
Study up: “Regularly read one business or finance column. Even if you don’t understand it all, keep reading,” says Rochelle Odesser, vice president at Madison Planning in West Harrison. Your bank has literature, community colleges offer personal finance courses. “Lack of information is not the issue,” says Rakesh Gupta, a business professor at Adelphi University in Garden City.
Talk to your children: “You don’t have to get naked to talk about sex, you don’t need to get overly specific about your financial situation. Do let them know money is limited, which helps in setting priorities and family goals,” says Ken Weber, president of Weber Asset Management in Lake Success. Allowances and piggy banks work for younger children. Hand teens articles about investing. Says Weber, “One good story about a personal investment that did well will be remembered for a lifetime.”