If household budgets, tax returns, loan repayments and superannuation investments make you anxious, you're not alone!
Recent figures from the Australian Financial Attitudes and Behaviour Tracker show that only 59% of Australians pay off their credit card in full each month, only 35% know the exact balance of their super and just 40% understand the concept of diversification.
The findings may come as no surprise, given the falling rates of students engaging in economics at school and only approximately 40% of high schools offer economics on the curriculum as opposed to just over 90% in the 1990s.
So how can you improve your financial literacy?
1. Start Now!
It's never too late to improve your knowledge about financial matters. Increase your knowledge about investing, estate planning, how credit cards work, credit scores, saving for your retirement, real estate and taxes. Tackle one topic at a time and start with the one you are most interested in first and begin to build a solid foundation of financial know-how.
2. Ask for Expert Advice
Talking to an experienced advisor can help people understand how to budget and save. An advisor can also look at how they are handling credit and debt and make suggestions on how to pay off, consolidate and manage finances with a plan for achieving a goal.
3. Use Resources from the Government
The Australian Government is making an effort to see that we have more opportunities to learn about personal finances.
The National Literacy Strategy
In 2011 the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) published the 'National Financial Literacy Strategy'. As the Government's flagship financial literacy program, the action plan is currently mid-rollout.
MoneySmart was designed for Australians who need help with their debt, who want to be more organised with their money, as well as those who want to build their wealth with guidance for investing and saving.
Resources available from the MoneySmart website include:
Borrowing & Credit
Great tools such as the MoneySmart Cars app, to help you work out the real cost of buying and running a car and the TrackMyGOALS app to help you cultivate good savings habits and track your savings goals
To access Government resources to improve your financial literacy, visit: moneysmart.gov.au
4. Read As Much as you Can
Read newspapers and magazines geared towards money matters. The financial section of local/regional newspapers are great resources, as are the Financial Times....
5. Take a Financial Literacy Class
Take a class on subjects that will help you learn how to manage your finances. If you prefer to stay at home, take a course through an online program.
There are also a multitude of self-help books podcasts, webinars, e-books or blogs, to help us improve our personal finances.