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Taxes Filed? Time to Improve Your Financial Literacy

By Adrienne Burke | Small Business

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It seems a cruel irony that National Financial Literacy Month is recognized at the same time the tax bill is due. Who wants to think about saving for the future while facing up to what you contribute to the federal budget?

But indeed, it’s been 11 years since the U.S. Senate passed a resolution decreeing April the time when we should all get a better grip on our finances. (We can hope the Senators are walking the talk.) 

Results of a Harris Poll conducted last month on behalf of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and NerdWallet suggest that we have our work cut out for us. “Americans are overly confident when it comes to finances, but unprepared for the future,” the groups proclaimed. While 59 percent of consumers told pollsters that they deserve an “A” or “B” when it comes to their own financial knowledge, 70 percent admitted to being worried about their personal finances, 60 percent said they spend without a budget, and 21 percent said they are spending more now than they did in 2014.

Another recent financial habits survey—this one specifically of U.S. small business owners conducted by the tax preparation software company Intuit—found that business ownership doesn’t necessarily confer financial savvy. Intuit reports:

  • 39 percent of small business owners do not follow financial news
  • 66 percent wish they knew more about their finances
  • 42 percent have taken a course to understand their businesses finances
  • 81 percent handle their business’ finances themselves as opposed to outsourcing to an expert
  • 62 percent think their employees do not understand their business’ finances.
  • 28 percent of small businesses are in debt.

With tax day now behind us, here are a few ways to recognize National Financial Literacy Month and brush up on your knowledge of both business and personal finances.

1. The website FinancialLiteracyMonth.com offers a “30 Steps to Financial Wellness” path that challenges users to accept responsibility for changing their financial situations. The recommended first step? Taking a pledge to stay on the path. The site, hosted by Money Management International, also offers links to 10 free resources including financial worksheets, a webinar, and an eBook to help users on their path.

2. Intuit’s financial literacy quiz, pictured here, tests business owners’ knowledge of accounting terms, creating financial statements, and applying data to business decisions. As test takers complete each of three levels, they can find out how their score compares with others in similar situations and, if feeling boastful, share it on social media. Intuit’s Small Business Center website also points to relevant resources for learning more about each quiz question topic.

3. The financial education website NerdWallet offers access to research and experts to “help consumers take back control of their choices in a marketing-driven trillion-dollar industry” [known as banking]. Read NerdWallet reviews and rankings of checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, and insurance policies, and submit specific questions for personalized answers from “expert nerds.”  

4. The nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling is a sort of clearinghouse of information about consumer finances. Download free publications and DVDs on topics including avoiding foreclosure, alternatives to filing bankruptcy, living richer after filing bankruptcy, and changing your approach to money.

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