With the passing of the dark days of January, February brings a touch of Spring in the Irish air. And what better time to sit down and give some thought to your finances.
Learning about money should be a life-long process. And this is especially true today as more and more of us can expect to live longer yet have more financial responsibility when we stop working and earning a regular income. With both the State and employers scaling back from offering the traditional supports in retirement than in past years, how financially fit we are throughout life will set the stage for how well off we can expect to be. And it is financial literacy that will underpin this.
You are never too young, or old to learn about money, money management and how to improve your financial literacy.
In fact, financial literacy should be more than a passing fad. It should be treated just like physical fitness; a regular process of learning and refinement that will help those that are actively involved.
Following are some simple and practical steps that can support you in the continuous financial literacy journey:
1 Create visibility and keep an eye on your spending (and bank balance).
There is no doubt that modern technology has made it really easy to check in on your bank account regularly. It can be done from your home PC or your phone. So why not use the access to regularly check into your bank account balance and keep an eye on your spending as this can serve as a powerful way of keeping your spending in check. Use the information to track expenses, set goals and remain in track to achieving those goals.
2 Browse the finance section of a paper
Many journalists do a great job researching the market for all sorts of financial news, money-saving tips and best practice. This can range from tips on investing for retirement, cutting health insurance costs, buying a home and saving for a rainy day. So use their expertise as it can be a great starting point to getting great impartial money tips that could pay off handsomely in the long term.
3 Be humble and ask questions
People can be very hesitant to ask money questions. This happens where they can have legitimate questions but fear sounding ‘dumb’. There is NEVER a dumb question when it comes to money. Never! Remember, the worst thing you can do when it comes to your money is remaining silent. Talk, ask questions and speak up. If you don’t understand what compound interest is, ask! If you don’t understand what TER or OCF is, ask! Bye the way, they mean Total Expense Ration and Ongoing Charges Figure and refer to the costs that are applied to investments. The worst thing you can do when it comes to your money is remaining silent.
Frank Conway is a Qualified Financial Adviser and Founder of MoneyWhizz.org, the financial literacy initiative.