April is Financial Literacy Month

by mzumtaylor on April 2, 2011

in Financial Literacy,Personal Finance

I know it’s been a little quiet around The Finance Geek for a couple of weeks (months?), but I figured that there was no better time for a personal finance blogger to dive back into blogging than Financial Literacy Month.

What is Financial Literacy Month

According to Wikipedia, the Jump$tart Coallition started promoting April as Financial Literacy Month back in 2000, and the United States government officially recognized April as Financial Literacy Month is March of 2004.

In the 11 years since the Jump$tart Coalition first promoted it, many banks and financial institutions have jumped on board and spend April hosting events and classes to help people improve their financial knowledge and wellness.

Even if it wasn’t financial literacy month, April is a great time to take stock of where you are with your financial goals.

    Create a budget if you don’t have one and see how you do with it over the next 30 days.

    Start saving, even just $5 a month in a mason jar, if you haven’t yet, or save just 1-2% more than you did last month.

    Cut out a frivolous purchase for the month of April (coffee from Starbucks, or books from Barnes and Noble, or shoes, or video games, or whatever you spend more money on than you should).

Where are we with my Financial Fitness?

Since I last checked in with you folks (I’m sorry I skipped out on most of February and all of March), my husband and I have made some great progress.

Success 1: We have saved $1,000 for our emergency fund.

Success 2: We have started paying off our last credit card. $290 down and $3,685 to go.

Success 3: I filed our taxes, and we are getting a refund this year, which will help toward that credit card debt. Our plan: 10% for frivolous spending, 90% to pay off debt. (It’s always a good idea to build in a little frivolous spending, so your budget doesn’t seem to restrictive.)

Success 4: I checked our credit reports and credit scores and we are both doing well. My husband’s score even improved. (See my post “Know Your Credit Score” for more.)

Success 5: We’ve stayed within budget in every area (except gas), including groceries, these last two months. Didn’t go over a thing. 😀

What is our plan for continued financial wellness?

Continue paying down debt, with a minimum monthly payment of $200. Hopefully we’ll be able to hit the $400 a month goal I set for us, but I know that $200 is realistically doable every month.

Continue sticking to our budget (it seems to be working well for us, finally).

Continue saving toward our goals, even though it’s not as much as we would like to be saving because we’re paying off debt. We’ll get there.

Re-organize my filing system to get rid of clutter and old documents. I also plan to talk with my husband about how I have our files organized, so in the event something happens to me, he’s not completely lost.

Useful Links

Money Management International put together FinancialLiteracyMonth.com, a website that offers (among other things) a “30 Steps to Financial Wellness” guide.

@FiscalLiteracy has a great blog post on the Top Ten Financial Resolutions for Financial Literacy Month. My two favorites? Pay Yourself First (always a good one) and Become Debt Free.

The Harvard Business Review had a great blog post last month about the 9 Things Successful People do Differently. My favorites are “Be a realistic optimist” and “Focus on getting better, rather than being good.”

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