Money is an unusual subject. Some of us talk about it, others avoid the subject altogether. Our early awareness of money stems from childhood. These first experiences often form our lifelong relationship with money. Unfortunately, that’s as far as most people’s money training goes. In the U.S., there is little effort given to money management education yet we live as part of a global economy that is financially demanding.
How, then, are we to navigate the complexities of managing our own money? In this bountiful world, economic choices are endless; often, these choices enter our lives before we have the knowledge to make wise choices. Frequently, a college student’s first economic experience is a checking account and credit card. Without preparation, the credit card can become a dangerous instrument. At the same time, taking on student loans can change a young person’s life. While the economic consequence of a college degree is positive, the burden of a large loan can cause a lasting economic impact.
There are many sources for financial literacy training. Remember, it is more than learning about investments. Personal financial training includes earning, saving and spending, in other words, money management.
Local Colleges. Just about every college now offers financial courses including money management courses. Look at the various colleges in your region to find the courses best suited to you.
On-Line Resources and The Public Library. Many sites on the internet are loaded with free information that explains earning, saving, spending and investing. For example, see the Finance articles at KhanAcademy. Mint.com offers free personal finance, budgeting and money management tools. They also have a strong section for children at diffeent ages.
If use the internet for your research, remember that many sites are seeking your business. Whether it’s the purchase of a book, a newsletter or a financial service, always check for references and quality. Buyer beware is necessary.
Your public library is a storehouse of books targeted to your needs and interest.
Teach your children. Start their knowledge of finances early. You’ll discover many types of financial literacy programs designed for children and teens. One to consider is JumpStart.org, a coalition of national organizations. Jump$tart is dedicated to financial literacy training from pre-kindergarten through college.
Once you are grounded in personal finance and money management, look at developing your investment skills.
Investment Firm Training Programs. Every investment firm is interested in your business. Understanding that is important if you decide to consider their various educational offerings. Many of them offer information and articles; some of them offer classes. If this is your preference, take time to research those offering classes. Ask about the class or program objective.
Money Clubs/Investment Clubs. Rather than try to figure it out on their own, some people join an investment club. Together, members pool their money, hash out their research, decide on their investments and take the plunge, they invest their capital.
Some clubs are chapters of an association. Others are individuals who have found a mutual interest. Some can tell stories of terrific success; others may not have encountered windfalls but their members have learned from the regular research and discussion preceding each investment.
Ask around. Find a group in your area that meets your interests and pocketbook. Be aware and cautious. Do not invest your money without deep knowledge and research.