By Heather Morton
April is Financial Literacy Month.
Financial literacy focuses on the specific knowledge and concepts consumers need to manage their money and build wealth, depending on an individual’s situation.
It may mean learning how to create and manage a household budget, learning how to invest money for retirement, or participating in one-on-one coaching and counseling to determine how to buy a house or start a business. It also can be part of an overall strategy to increase economic security for lower-income families.
Finding the right balance of where, when and how to teach financial education continues to be debated and discussed by policymakers in the states.
In a recent report, Champlain College's Center for Financial Literacy, using national data, graded all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their efforts to produce financially literate high school graduates
According to the 2017 report card, 27 states received grades C, D or F. At Champlain College, students have a requirement to take a personal financial education to graduate. And, the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College advocates for personal finance education, particularly at the high school level.
In its 10th annual Parents, Kids & Money Survey, T. Rowe Price found 84 percent of young adults who received financial education are glad that they received it. Young adults who received financial education in school are:
- More likely to have a budget (88 percent vs. 73 percent).
- More likely to have an emergency fund (60 percent vs. 43 percent).
- More likely to put 10 percent or more of their income toward savings (66 percent vs. 48 percent).
- More likely to have a retirement account (56 percent vs. 36 percent).
Legislative efforts to improve financial literacy continue in the 2018 legislative session. Thirty states have financial literacy legislation directed at K-12, higher education and adults in 2018.
In conjunction with Financial Literacy Month, the National Retirement Planning Coalition recognizes the need to educate Americans on retirement planning and is committed to making this a national priority.
National Retirement Planning Week, April 9-13, 2018, and other Coalition activities demonstrate that it is possible to Retire on Your Terms. To support these education efforts, the coalition has collected the latest resources to help consumers and financial professionals focus on long-term financial goals. These tools are available year-round at www.retireonyourterms.org.
Heather Morton is a program principal in Fiscal Affairs. She covers financial services issues for NCSL.