Tired of finding yourself broke at the end of each week? Sick of watching your balance shrink to zero each time you pay your bills?
Ready to take control of your finances?
If you answered yes to any of the above, keep reading. Today we're going to talk about mastering financial literacy — the first step to attaining financial health and independence.
What Is Personal Financial Literacy?
To learn financial literacy, you have to understand the term. Financial literacy means managing your personal finances in a smart and organized way. It includes taking into account all your debts and obligations and making responsible decisions. Financial literacy covers areas such as:
- Monthly bills
- Real estate
You can't learn how to become financially literate without performing an overview of everything you pay for each month. We recommend making a list so you can return to reference it again and again as you attempt to improve your finances. Now you are ready to learn how to become financially literate.
Nail the Basics
First of all, you have to realize you don't need a college degree to have a firm grasp on what it means to be financially literate. Even if you dropped out of high school and haven't read a book since, you can figure out your personal finances.
The obvious starting point is understanding your own cash flow. Yes, creating and maintaining a proper budget is extremely relevant to this point. But simply recognizing the exact amount of money that comes into your wallet and bank account each month and measuring it versus what you need to spend can be very revealing.
Second, you need to understand your savings potential. Even if that will only be $5 twice a month, do it. After a year of saving 10 a month, that's $120 you can spend (preferably wisely) at the end of the year. The more you increase it by, the better.
Third, start looking into your credit score. Whether you're a Millennial or a Baby Boomer, any interaction you have with credit cards, auto or home loans, or trying to land the perfect apartment will require a credit check. So don't let the lenders and landlords be the only ones who get to see that number. Make use of one of the many credit score programs and websites out there that allow you to check your score on the fly. From there, check out these blogs on how to boost your credit score:
- Correct an error on your credit report
- Learn which is worse, no credit or bad credit
- Find easy ways to increase your credit
Create a Detailed Plan
This part might take a little more mental might. Now that you've figured out your personal financial situation, you have to start practicing what you've been preaching and create a plan you'll stick with.
Tell yourself you'll pay off your credit card debt within a specified period of time. Maybe promise to stop those extra spending habits, and put that extra money toward debt or other important costs. Anything that gets you on the right track financially can be incorporated into your detailed plan.
One crucial element in creating your course of financial action is to use the correct products. Don't use checking accounts that charge you monthly maintenance fees or require a minimum monthly spending amount.
And never, ever trust a bank that throws a huge overdraft fee at you if an unexpected Netflix charge hits your account before you've deposited your paycheck. Show them you're a displeased customer and cancel your account ASAP.
Learn More About Personal Finances
Educating yourself about the terminology and expectations derived from personal finance can help you in many ways. When you understand what financial terms mean, you can follow advice for improving your personal finances. Here are a few ways you can improve your knowledge:
- Read the business section of your local newspaper, in print or online.
- Read articles on websites focused on finances.
- Get a subscription to a monthly magazine that covers personal finance.
- Watch financial news on cable.
The more you read and watch, the more familiar basic terms will become. If you hear something you don't understand, head to the internet to figure it out. A quick search can clear up your questions and may lead you to more helpful sites to expand your personal finance knowledge. If you still want to learn more, consider taking a personal finance class at a local community college or community center. Then you can ask your instructor questions.
Consider a Quick Boost
Got your plan ready but realize you're not quite ready to start it? You might just need a few months of saving to begin implementing it -- or, you could find a quick stimulus to your finances in the form of an easy personal loan from a lender like Atlas Credit, an easy way to master basic financial literacy.
Whether you're in Longview, Tyler, Waco, Denton, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, Dallas, or any other Texas city, you can visit your local Atlas Credit office to see if you qualify for a personal loan of up to $1,400 that can be paid off in 5 to 12 months. Even if you have bad credit, that money can get you up to speed and ready to prepare for your financial future. Find a location near you in Oklahoma or Texas, or apply online.
And don't forget to check out other helpful posts on personal finance from the Atlas Credit blog!