Boost Your Financial IQ

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How confident are you when making financial decisions? Finances control nearly every aspect of our lives — from balancing the checkbook to budgeting to mortgages to planning for college and retirement. How we handle those decisions — and prepare our children to do the same — can shape the future and that of generations to come.
 
It’s no secret that Americans struggle with finances. A recent WalletHub survey found that U.S. consumers rang in 2019 with more than $1 trillion in credit card debt. And only 2 in 5 adults surveyed said they even have a budget. Some states are tackling the problem of financial literacy in the schools, teaching the basics of personal finance to high school students. About one-third of U.S. states — including Missouri — require students to pass a personal finance course to graduate from high school.
 
While providing an excellent start to financial literacy, no single class can prepare you or your offspring for the financial complexities of today’s world. Education begins at home.
 
For Dr. Peter Stiepleman, superintendent of Columbia Public Schools in mid-Missouri, financial literacy is an essential part of education. “Every kid needs a plan” when they walk across the stage to receive their diploma, he says in an episode of Landmark Bank’s podcast series “More than Cash.”
 
In describing his financial journey for the podcast, Stiepleman credits his parents for lessons that have served him well. Those lessons didn’t guarantee he wouldn’t make mistakes, he says, but they taught him how to work through mistakes and learn from them.
 
Talk money with your children early on. Develop good financial habits that serve as a role model for them:

  • Live within your means by creating a budget and sticking to it.
  • Pay your bills.
  • Monitor your bank account balance to avoid overdraft fees.
  • Figure out what your loans and credit card interest are costing you.
  • Free yourself of bad debt.
  • Acquire adequate insurance coverage to protect your assets.
  • Set aside an emergency fund (at least three to six months of living expenses) to see you through unexpected setbacks or unemployment crisis.
  • Learn investment strategies to save for college and plan for retirement.
 
If you don’t feel confident in your own financial knowledge, take a class or consult a professional to strengthen your knowledge in areas where you’re weak. Check out the opportunities to learn at your local community college, Extension Service or adult education offerings. Landmark Bank has many resources to help you improve your financial literacy. Visit the website at [www.LandmarkBank.com] for more ideas.
 

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