Personal finance education is key to improving the financial stability of millions of Americans. InCharge develops and distributes personal finance education, free-of-charge, to children and adults, nationwide.
Free Financial Literacy Resources for Adults
A good budget and savings commitment are the foundation of your financial plan. Learn how to budget, cut expenses, set savings goals and more. Challenge yourself to make every category in your budget more efficient. Learn how to reduce your expenses and built an emergency fund.
InCharge is proud to offer free financial literacy resources to teachers, K-12, college and adult. These are designed for individual study as well as in-person workshop experiences. These resources are free for downloading, printing and reproducing. Teacher’s guides included.
InCharge has developed specialized financial literacy workshops for at-risk adult populations, especially low-education and low-literacy. These unique materials are highly visual and interactive – designed for the in-person workshop. Check out our programs, use our materials in your own community and let us know how they work for you.
The State of Personal Finance Education In The United States
Americans as a group are woefully lax at managing money. Many borrow too much, aren’t good about repaying debt and postpone planning for retirement until it’s right in front of them.
Worse still, they make terrible investment decisions based on advice they should have dismissed.
Statistics bring focus to the problem. If hit with a $1,000 emergency, 39% of Americans in 2021 said they wouldn’t be able to cover it with money they have on hand. More than half of Americans won’t be able to maintain their lifestyle after age 65 because of a lack of adequate retirement savings. And by the way, that’s even if they keep working, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Americans were getting a little better, but the number has inched back up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Year after year, the storyline continues. Studies suggest the problem is inter-generational. Many college students graduate with no plan to repay student loans and a pile of credit-card debt.
The Importance of Financial Literacy
Educators and consumer-focused nonprofit organizations believe the issue is largely that American consumers just don’t know any better. A cadre of these groups are fighting back with curricula aimed at making financial education part of every secondary-school program.
“We want people to have a financial education before they become adults,” said Laura Levine, president and chief executive of Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. “We need to do better. We need to educate more students with courses offered more often.”
Jump$tart Coalition is a Washington, D.C.-based consortium launched in 1995 to encourage financial-training programs. The organization has a wide range of tools for both consumers and educators, in-person and online. The goal is to create a population that is informed about financial choices and competent enough to make good decisions, the essence of financial literacy.
But it’s an uphill struggle.
Financial Education in Schools
School districts across the nation complain that they lack the money and staff to take on new programs. The sort of financial training they offer varies greatly. According to the Council for Economic Education, 21 states require that high school students take a personal finance course to graduate and 25 require students take an economics course.
“Financial education is the classic underfunded mandate,” Levine said. “The states say the programs are necessary, but they often leave it to the local school districts to find the money.”
Personal Finance Videos from Sergeant Debt
Check out InCharge’s personal finance videos hosted by Sergeant Debt, the debt drill sergeant. The three-video series helps people learn how to budget, how to save and how to pay down their debt using their discretionary income.
Online Financial Literacy Tools
The problem has grown in an age of seemingly limitless financial choice. Credit cards, which not long ago had strict underwriting standards, are now widely available. Online access to financial services and promotional email has made credit offers of all sorts a ubiquitous part of life.
But the internet has also brought more tools for managing money, offering a vast array of free financial-planning calculators and budgeting apps. The trick is knowing what to do with them and deciding which are worth using.
The website mymoney.gov, for example, has advice divided into three categories: youth, teachers and educators, and researchers. There are sections devoted to each group with information ranging from games that help children understand the concepts of saving and spending to a roadmap for financial abuse of retirees.
The site 360financialliteracy.org puts that idea on steroids with topics aimed at eight different stages of life from teenagers to retired. You identify the stage of life you’re in – student, parent, homeowner, crisis, etc. – and you will find news and information aimed at your situation, along with tools and calculators that can help solve problems you may be encountering. You can even submit questions to the Ask the Money Doctor and see what “the doctor” prescribes for debt relief.
If you are a high school or college student or a teacher who instructs on financial skills, you might want to visit cashcourse.org, which has financial education courses that include assignments, customized worksheets and calculators and articles geared toward answering real-life questions about money.
The federal government gets into the act with the website federalreservereducation.org that offers teachers excellent guides for educating children from kindergarten all the way through college. Subject matter includes material on credit, personal finance, consumer protection and other areas of interest to students.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was founded in 2011 to increase the financial literacy of Americans, from childhood to old age. The bureau provides direct financial education to the public, shares its research on financial education and literacy with educators and others, and addresses needs of financial literacy and inclusion for military service members and veterans, older Americans, underserved consumers and communities, and students. In 2020 alone, more than 12.1 million people used the bureau’s web or print resources.
Ostrowski, J. (2021, Jan 11) Survey: Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans Could Pay a Surprise $1,000 Bill from Savings. Retrieved from https://www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/financial-security-january-2021/
Chen, A., Munnell, A., Sliciano, R. (2021, January) The National Retirement Risk Index: An Update from the 2019 SCF. Retrieved from https://crr.bc.edu/briefs/the-national-retirement-risk-index-an-update-from-the-2019-scf/
N.A. (2020, February 5) Survey of the States. Retrieved from https://www.councilforeconed.org/survey-of-the-states-2020/
N.A. (2020, December 31) 2020 Financial Literacy Annual Report. Retrieved from https://www.consumerfinance.gov/data-research/research-reports/2020-financial-literacy-annual-report/