FINANCIAL LITERACY: WHAT IS IT, AND HOW DO YOU IMPROVE YOURS?

Authored by Bonita Louise, UK

PART 1 | LOOKING AT YOUR FINANCES

When I tell you financial literacy never even existed in my vocabulary until I was well into my thirties, I can promise you I’m not exaggerating. I was on a low income for most of my twenties, went out every weekends and was very much in debt for what seemed like not a lot of expensive stuff.

But before we get into it, what exactly is financial literacy? Well, to put it simply, it is where someone has a good understanding, knowledge and skill to form a robust foundation surrounding their money. These skills can include budgeting your monthly income and expenditure, investing into stocks and shares, creating saving pots for big purchases and paying down consumer debt. It is essentially good personal financial management.

Unfortunately, most millennials were never taught good financial literacy from their parents, and it certainly wasn’t a thing in schools when I was younger. In fact, most bad money habits come from watching how our parents handled money, and they learnt it from how their parents before them handled it and so on. However, the earlier you start the journey of managing your finances, the better off you’ll be, and if you are the first one in your family to break the cycle, awesome!

In this series I’ll not only explain exactly what I did to increase my financial literacy, but also recommend some great videos, books and tools to help you get started too.

LOOKING AT YOUR FINANCES

Step Number One

Grab yourself a notebook & pen (or an excel spreadsheet if that is more your thing) and make sure you have a spare hour or two. We’re about to go deep and we’re about to go messy. You’ll need your bank statements for EVERY bank you have, whether it’s joint/savings/dormant accounts etc, as well as your phone or PC to access your online banking. Make a cuppa, settle down, and shut out all distractions.

Step Number Two

Write down all income you have coming into the household. That is wages after tax and NI, any benefits you may get including housing benefit, child benefit, universal credit or tax credits. Put in your partners wages after tax and NI if you have one, or any child maintenance payments etc. Basically any kind of income you get, pop it down.

Now, go through all your transactions for the past three months and get a rough average of all your ESSENTIAL bills, such as rent, gas/electricity, water, council tax etc. These are in your essential list because they are usually fixed every month and you HAVE to pay them in order to continue to survive.

Now, make a separate list of all your NON ESSENTIAL bills, such as your internet, phone, gym etc.

Don’t include food, clothes or entertainment/going out just yet, as we will have separate lists for them.

Step Number Three

Now, add up all the money you spent on food shopping every month for the past three months, and write down the average. Include your major food shops, and even the little ‘nip to the shops’ moments for chocolate bars during the days or evenings.

On a separate section, work out the average you spend on takeaways every month (This may be painful to calculate! :D)

Step Number Four

Now repeat the steps you’ve been doing above for both clothes and going out. Once you’ve finished, put the average food bill you calculated in step three (not the takeout bill) and pop it over into the ESSENTIAL bills section.

Take the clothes, going out and takeaways total and put them in the NON ESSENTIAL list.

Step Number Five

Now, this step only applies if you have consumer debt, including car loans, loan payments, credit cards and store cards etc. Make a list of your outgoings that are debt related. Create a separate column for minimum repayment, total amount left to repay and the APR on each debt. Don’t include mortgages if you have one as you will have put this in essential bills (we’ll look at down paying that later in the series) and don’t include student loans. Put your minimum repayments in the essentials column and keep this list handy as we’ll look at reducing your debts later.

Well done! The hard bits over! At this point you should be able to see what you have coming in and what you have going out, what is essential and what is non-essential. In the next part of the series we’ll look at budgeting, ways to reduce your bills and important switches you can make to reduce your outgoings. Was it a shock to you? Maybe you spend a little more than you realised on items you didn’t necessarily need? But don’t worry! You’ve taken your first step into understanding your financial literacy, and now it is time to improve it.

Subscribe and follow for when the next part in the series is out and in the meantime, check out the helpful tools below.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a financial advisor – all advice given are taken from my own experiences, which I hope will help you too. Please consult a professional if you are in serious financial trouble.

Thank you for supporting me – just a note, the post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click the link I may receive a reward (which doesn’t cost you anything, don’t worry!) if you choose to sign up or purchase. Huge thank you if you do

Helpful YouTube Videos

Financial Literacy for Beginners | Money Management for Financial Freedom

Martin Lewis: How to teach your kids about debt (& why financial education matters)

Useful Tools

Financial Planner Journal

The 6-Minute Success Journal 

Handy Books

The Psychology of Money: Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness 

The Money Diet: The ultimate guide to shedding pounds off your bills and saving money on everything! 

Finance TikTok Channels

Looking After Your Pennies

Mamafurfur

eBooks

If you prefer eBooks, get a 30 day free trial using this link and check out the titles below!

CLICK HERE

Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

Money: Know More, Make More, Give More: Learn how to make more money and transform your life

Check out the article:


Author: Bonita Louise

I’m Bonita Louise, and I'm a freelancer, writer, business owner & all-around creative misfit. I've been self-employed, in the UK for over 5 years now. I love trying new avenues of growing wealth through creation, whether that's designing new and amazing products, writing, video making and just all manner of digital creation design & growth. Check out the different pages where you'll find me talking about all things designing, business and handmade, as well as my personal development journey into investing, productivity and wealth creation. I own The Bookish Gift Studio, and I write non-fiction and fiction work after studying for my Masters in Creative Writing. I'm also a huge cinephile, and you'll find me trying to be most awesome and bodacious somewhere in the eighties the majority of the time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s