April is National Financial Literacy Month. A month to educate and celebrate spending wisely, thinking through purchases, paying off debt, budgeting, and all things related to money. It so important to celebrate this month and to work with our children to make better financial decisions. Research suggests that children have low levels of financial literacy and that can have detrimental effects throughout their lives. Helping students become financially literate is a large part of my life, but it has also grown to be a popular subject–research, news sites, banks and credit unions, and community organizations (Nebraska Council on Economic Education, Council for Economic Education, Jump$tart, National Endowment for Financial Education) are all working toward making young people more financially literate.
Through the UNO Center for Economic Education I work nationally with a network of Center and Council directors—basically people who are as enthusiastic and excited about teaching economics and personal finance as I am. I surveyed others to find out their best PRACTICAL money smart tips and here they are:
10 Practical Money Smart Tips for your Family
- Save “Set up a separate savings account where you deposit monthly for irregular and upcoming expenses such as car repairs and holidays. I find keeping it purposely out of sight/out of mind helps.” Jennifer Davidson, President, Nebraska Council on Economic Education and Assistant Professor of Practice in Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- Less Credit Card Use “Avoid using your credit card to finance your purchases – if you have to use your card, you can’t afford the purchase. Only use your card when you are certain that you will be able to pay the bill by the due date – this will allow you to build your credit history, enjoy the points and miles associated with your purchases, and avoid interest charges.” Carlos Asarta, Ph.D., Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship, University of Delaware
- Be Kind “My best tip for all things is to practice self-compassion. This is also true for finances. Be compassionate with your choices, especially those that might lead to negative feelings of regret or shame. Regret and shame hold you back far worse than any financial mistake. Be kind to yourself and to your money.” Susan Reilly, Ph.D. Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Economic and Financial Education, Florida State College at Jacksonville
- Be Smart “Remember that you can’t spend your way to wealth!” Susan Doty, Director of the Center for Economic Education and Financial Literacy at The University of Texas at Tyler
- Plan “Take the time to make a plan.” Abdullah Al-Bahrani, Ph.D. Director of the Center for Economic Education and Assistant Professor of Economics at Northern Kentucky University
- Be Patient “Shop around, especially for large purchases. It takes more time, but you could end up saving big $$ by doing your homework. (I did this when I bought my first home and was so well versed in mortgages when I called companies to get quotes they thought I was a broker trying to scope out the competition.)” Erin A. Yetter, PhD. Senior Economic Education Specialist, Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis Louisville Branch
- Start Small “If you’re waiting to do things (like save, stay home with your kids, etc.) for when there is enough money…there’s never enough money. Start small and start now. Time can be your best friend or your greatest enemy. Kim Holder, Director of UWG Center for Economic Education and Financial Literacy and Lecturer of Economics, University of West Georgia
- Make a List “It’s very simple but make a grocery list and only buy what is on your list. Cuts down on impulse purchases that can add up and bust your budget.” Mary Lynn Reiser, Retired Director of the Center for Economic Education, University of Nebraska at Omaha
- Expect the Unexpected “The most frequent cause of going broke in America is unexpected medical expenses. Always be sure you have solid medical insurance coverage, even if you feel healthy and would rather spend elsewhere.” Kim Sosin, Ph.D. Retired Department Chair and Professor of Economics, Director of the Center for Economic Education, University of Nebraska at Omaha
- Let it Grow “Wealth is grown from the seeds of contentment.” Derek D’Angelo, President of the Michigan Council on Economic Education.
I’d love to hear back from you all about how you manage your family’s finances and if you have additional money smart tips!