Every responsible adult knows “tax day” is in April, although this year as the government celebrates Emancipation Day April 15 -- we get a reprieve until April 18 to file our taxes. But most taxpayers may not be aware that this coincides with National Financial Literacy Month, which has been promoted since 2003 as the month to teach Americans how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits.
Many of the country’s financial institutions and nonprofit financial education organizations promote the month by holding promotional events and have readily available educational materials that center on effectively handling money and dealing with debt. In 2001, nearly 30,000 teenagers from 18 countries took part in the first large-scale international assessment of young people’s financial literacy according to the National Council for Economic Education. More than one in six students in the United States failed to reach the baseline level of proficiency in financial literacy.
Schools as well as parents, play a significant role in the lives of young people as they develop into independent, capable members of communities. The growth in state-support for developing educational programs has been slow where only 17 states require high school students to take a course in personal finance even though it is clear that communities will benefit greatly from having more financially competent households in the future.
April 29, is National Teach Your Children to Save Day and there are numerous programs across the country as well, being sponsored by financial institutions including American Investment Planners.
For young adults, mastering their personal finances allows them to concentrate on learning and having fun, and not having some of the most important years in their lives sidetracked by money troubles. The major advantage of financial literacy will be self-evident as students grow older and financial decisions become more important and will have far reaching rewards in personal, family, and community success.
The website www.whatsmyscore.org sponsored by Visa has many valuable resources for budgeting money, increasing financial literacy to help manage online bank resources including the good habits of keeping accurate bank records and understanding the essentials of savings and investment terms. Visit www.americaninvestmentplanners.com for a handy budget and expense worksheet.
For every parent and grandparent today that wish they would have started saving earlier, now is the time to help your young adult child or grandchild comprehend the impact of compound interest on saving and the “rule of 72,” which is approximately how long it will take to double your money at a specified interest rate. For instance, if you’re earning 6 percent interest, divide 72 by 6 -- that means it will take about 12 years for your original investment to double in value at a 6 percent interest rate. Understanding credit scores and the “money trap” of credit cards with the results of spiraling debt can save untold amount of bankruptcies and family dynamic meltdowns.
One way to ease the sting of college costs is understanding and tapping into tax advantages available this month. Opening a 529 Qualified State Tuition Plan to help save money for education tax-free or a Coverdell Education Savings Account can begin a great lesson for the importance of investing for the future. The advantages of a Roth or traditional IRA and the implications for a secure future retirement can be a great topic for a grandparent this month while taxes are on the forefront of everyone’s mind.
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Barbara Magor Deel is a certified financial planner and a chartered financial consultant with EFS Generation Income Planning in La Vernia.