A bit of a misleading title; however, it isn’t too far off from the truth. With the recent public demonstrations where millions are taking to the streets to battle austerity and the damages caused by the “1%”, we don’t seem to be making any progress developing resources to educate the general public on bettering their own financial situation. The simple reason why this won’t seem to change anytime soon is simply the following:
Most have already made their bed and have crapped all over it.
Traditional financial strategies that have once guided baby boomers to reach retirement with dignity are being thrown out the window in the 21st Century, as more and more individuals are getting addicted to consumer credit. Instead of people being honest about their situation, they avoid their grim financial reality by focusing on other areas in their lives. Similar to other popular topics like general health, physical relationships, and other taboo topics, most individuals stretch the truth and avoid pursuing professional help to solve their problems.
Where are people suppose to develop financial literacy? Most would say that schools would be the most ideal place to deliver such tools. Unfortunately, most schooling districts simply don’t have the resources to successfully deliver vital life lessons. Whether it is the fact that the school district is cutting back on programs to balance their budget, or worse the individual(s) teaching the material most likely doesn’t follow the lesson plan within their personal lives.
To simply leave this topic to be taught at home leaves many at a significant disadvantage, as the average household is either swimming in debt, or they were able to partake in opportunities that don’t exist for many today. Some may learn effectively by learning what one’s parent(s) do and/or don’t do; however, it still doesn’t create the change that is necessary to empower individuals to make well informed financial decisions.
With school and family/friends off the list, that really leaves the Government and the private sector. Fortunately, if you are very diligent and enjoy reading pages of information, most Government websites have most material you would need to know about financial literacy. Good luck navigating through the sites without wanting to throw your computer out the window. Therefore, we are left with the private sector, which has its pros and cons.
Many individuals have been burnt believing “professionals” selling them a financial product(s) that have potentially worsen their situation. Credible financial advice is seldom free, as there is almost always a sales pitch with every meeting booked. Unfortunately, many of these “professionals” are limited to the industry they represent. For example, a mortgage broker may be a great resource to learn the basics of investment properties via cost savings through selecting the right mortgage, but they may be completely useless in discussing estate planning.
At the end of the day, the masses are waging wars on matters that may not directly affect their individual situation even if they found success in their cause. Sure ending corruption in Wall Street, by eliminating Government Bailouts, could move tax dollars to more worthy causes; however, if an individual does not know how to save, live within their own means, and/or develop skills to increase their means for a better life then they are simply fighting the wrong fight.
Financial Literacy is more than learning about balancing your cheque book. Financial Literacy can assist individuals in making logical decisions on real financial transactions that could avoid financial hardships from basing their decisions previously solely on emotions and/or meeting the expectations of others.