Being Literate with Money…and Giving

How many of you had parents like mine? Beginning around age 10, for any money they gave me or that I made mowing lawns, my mom and dad made me save some, allowed me to spend some and made sure I gave some to the church offering.

I was able to see how savings—even a small amount, week after week—can grow into a nest egg. I also gained an understanding of the “giving back” ethic. And, I loved it when I got to buy something cool! Without blowing it all, of course.

That may have been the beginning of my appreciation of financial planning. And it ties in directly with April as National Financial Literacy Month.

The whole notion of “financial literacy” has gained steam as consumer trends have shown that too many people in this country are not making headway toward financial security. Consumer debt is too high, especially non-mortgage debt and student loan debt. The average retirement savings in the U.S. for those in their 50s and 60s is woefully short of what will  be needed to maintain a satisfying lifestyle.

Financial literacy means learning—and learning early—about:

  • Planning a budget
  • Making smart spending decisions
  • Mapping out a long-term savings plan
  • Understanding how our tax system works
  • Judging insurance and investment options

I would also add charitable giving to this list. Many people would be much wiser and more confident in their desire to give if we could help them:

  • Experience the civic value of giving
  • Learn how to recognize a well-run nonprofit
  • Define their values and passions, and determine how nonprofit involvement can help them “live” those values
  • Understand how and when a gift or planned giving decision may be right for them

So I’d say let’s all be mindful of how planned giving and charitable dollars can fit into any person’s financial plan. From the kid earning lawn-mowing money to those getting ready for retirement. The more they understand, the better we can connect with them.

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