April is Financial Literacy Month (among other things) and we hear these words together a lot, but what does it really mean to be financially literate? And if we’re going to ask that question, then I have to ask, does being financially literate mean you actually have your finances together?
In the process of digging into the real definition for last week’s radio show, we stumbled upon the phrase “financial capability.” It turns out that while we’re all sitting here feeling bad for ourselves about not knowing how to calculate compound interest, financial capable people are not letting that stop them from making boss-worthy financial moves.
Here’s the difference:
When you’re financially literate, you have an understanding of how money works – how to earn it, manage it, invest it, etc. and technically you have the skills and knowledge to make financial decisions.
When you’re financially capable, you also have the confidence, attitude, and self-efficacy to act on these decisions.
Basically, you believe in yourself.
You believe that you know enough to make a decision OR that you know enough to know when you ask for help AND you believe that it’s worth your time and there is value to managing your money proactively.
Yeah. I know. I wish we could just go back to the compound interest thing too.
But here’s why financial capability is way less scary than it sounds. With financial literacy, it can sometimes feel like you need to know everything before you make a move. With financial capability, you have the permission to learn and make mistakes as you go along.
If you’re financially capable, it’s okay to stumble through some things and not know it all, because you have the confidence to make course corrections along the way.
Here are some moves you can make this week to get closer to becoming financially capable, whether or not you ever figure out how the hell compound interest works:
- Switch out of your bank if you’ve cursed their name more than twice in the last year. (Yes, it will be more than worth it, even if you have to switch out all the direct deposit and bill pay. Trust me, this is a badass move.)
- Call your cable/internet/phone company to get your monthly bill lowered or reduce unused services.
- Open a savings account and set up a $25-$50/month auto transfer. If you already have a savings account, take it to the next level and make auto contributions to a Roth IRA.
- Call to get a charge reversed from your bank or credit card company. Usually, banks will reverse some overdraft fees or unexpected monthly charge (because you dipped below a balance) and credit card companies will reverse late charges
- Check your credit score at creditkarma.com AND review the report to see if anything looks funny or out of whack.
Pick one or two and don’t have any expectations about how any of it will turn out. Being financially capable means you also know that you can’t fail at finances, you learn and move forward.