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Financial Literacy: What It Is, and Why It Is So Important?

Date Modified: Mar 05, 2024
Jim Hughes, editor at
Sophia Rodriguez, reviewer at
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In America, the average adult is juggling almost $22,000 in debt, not even counting house loans. This figure shows how widespread the issue is, with many young Americans particularly feeling the pressure from credit card and car loan payments. 

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This situation highlights the necessity of financial literacy. Understanding how to manage finances, from budgeting to saving and investing, can empower individuals to navigate their economic reality more wisely. This blog demonstrates why financial literacy is important, guiding you through smart budgeting, saving, and investing strategies.

What Is Financial Literacy?

Financial literacy involves understanding how you make, spend, and save money. It also includes understanding and effectively using various financial skills, including personal financial management, budgeting, and investing.

Being financially literate means understanding your financial situation and knowing how to make choices that help you secure your future. It means being equipped to handle economic challenges and opportunities, from managing debt to planning for retirement. 

Young adult learning about financial literacy on laptopFor someone just starting their financial literacy journey, the goal is to become comfortable with financial terms and concepts and apply this knowledge to improve financial health and stability.

Benefits of Financial Literacy

Gaining financial literacy brings many benefits that can impact every aspect of your life, from daily decisions to long-term planning. Here are some key points highlighting why financial literacy is important:

  1. Informed Decision-Making: Understanding financial principles helps avoid common mistakes like overborrowing or falling for scams, saving individuals from costly consequences.
  2. Preparation for Emergencies: Financial literacy prepares you for unforeseen expenses – a medical emergency, job loss, or urgent home repairs – by emphasizing the importance of savings and emergency funds. This preparedness ensures that you're not left in a financial bind when life takes an unexpected turn.
  3. Goal Achievement: Effective budgeting and saving techniques are key to reaching personal and financial goals, from homeownership to retirement.
  4. Confidence in Financial Matters: Knowledge of financial concepts boosts confidence, making it easier to navigate investments, savings, and spending.
  5. Wealth Building: Learning about investment strategies can significantly increase personal wealth and ensure long-term financial security.
  6. Debt Management: Financial literacy offers methods to manage and reduce debt, leading to greater financial freedom and reduced stress.
  7. Comprehensive Planning: It encourages planning for major life events, including retirement, education funding, and estate planning, securing one's financial future.

Core Principles of Financial Literacy 

Understanding financial literacy involves grasping a few core principles that can guide your decisions and actions toward a healthier financial future. These principles form the foundation of smart money management, helping you better manage your earning, saving, spending, and investing. Let’s break down these key principles to make managing your finances more approachable. 

Budgeting And Expense Management 

Budgeting is creating a plan to allocate your income toward various expenses, savings, and investments. It involves tracking income sources, understanding spending habits, and setting financial goals. By doing so, budgeting allows you to make informed decisions about how to use your money effectively.

Expense management, on the other hand, focuses on monitoring and controlling your spending patterns. It's about being aware of where your money is going, identifying unnecessary expenditures, and reducing costs without compromising your quality of life.

Here’s why they are important:

  • Budgeting and expense management help you understand your financial situation clearly, which is the first step toward making empowered financial decisions.
  • Budgeting makes it possible to set realistic financial goals. 
  • By keeping track of expenses and adhering to a budget, you can avoid the pitfalls of overspending. 
  • Effective management of your finances creates room for savings and investments, which can be directed towards investments that offer returns.


Saving is setting aside a portion of your current income for future use, typically to safeguard against unforeseen expenses, accomplish financial goals, and provide a foundation for investing. 

Young adult opening online savings accountHere’s how savings contribute to a better financial future:

  • Having funds set aside, you're better prepared to handle unexpected expenses such as medical emergencies, car repairs, or sudden job loss. 
  • Whether your goals are short-term (such as planning a vacation) or long-term (like retirement planning), diligently setting aside money helps build the financial resources necessary to realize your aspirations.
  • Savings can be used instead of credit cards or loans for making major purchases or dealing with unforeseen expenses, reducing the burden of interest payments and potential debt traps.


Investing involves allocating money with the expectation of generating an income or profit. This could mean purchasing stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or real estate, among other vehicles, to grow your wealth over time.

Investing contributes to a more secure and prosperous financial future in the following ways:

  • Investing seeks to increase your wealth. The potential returns from investments can outpace inflation, enhancing your purchasing power in the long run.
  • Investments can provide an additional source of income. Dividends from stocks and interest from bonds can supplement your earnings.
  • Investing can be tailored to meet various financial goals, whether buying a home or securing a comfortable retirement. 
  • Investing in assets that have the potential to yield returns above the inflation rate can protect your purchasing power and ensure your savings retain their value.

Debt Management 

Debt management involves understanding the terms of your debts, devising a plan to pay them off, and ensuring that you can meet your repayment obligations without compromising your financial stability. 

Proper debt management is about balancing borrowing and your ability to repay, minimizing interest costs, and avoiding the accumulation of unmanageable debt.

Here’s how effective debt management can contribute to a healthier financial life:

  • Managing your debts responsibly and making timely payments improves your credit score, contributing to favorable terms, lower interest rates, and higher borrowing limits. 
  • Debt management prevents the accumulation of debt that can lead to financial instability.
  • Minimizing interest payments and eliminating debt faster frees up financial resources that can be redirected toward savings and investments.

Retirement Planning 

Planning for retirement is a forward-looking process that involves estimating future financial needs, saving and investing wisely, and considering inflation, healthcare costs, and lifestyle choices. Effective retirement planning ensures that you will have sufficient funds to maintain your desired standard of living once you retire, without the need for employment income.

Close up on retirement paperworkRetirement planning contributes to a better financial future in several ways:

  • Retirement planning ensures you accumulate enough money to support yourself without relying on employment income. 
  • Planning allows you to set aside funds for healthcare needs, including long-term care.
  • Retirement planning cultivates a long-term outlook on finances, highlighting the importance of planning and saving over decades. 

Insurance and Risk Management

Insurance is a form of risk management. It's a legal agreement between you and an insurance company. Under this agreement, you pay a premium, and in return, the insurer promises to compensate you for specific financial losses, damage, illness, or death, as outlined in your policy. 

Insurance contributes to your financial well-being:

  • Insurance provides a safety net that helps you cope with unexpected events, such as a car accident, a house fire, or a medical emergency, without derailing your financial plans.
  • Insurance helps prevent debt that could arise from paying out of pocket for emergencies.
  • It safeguards your savings by ensuring you don't need to dip into them to cover sudden, large expenses.


Taxes are mandatory financial charges the government collects from individuals to fund public services and infrastructure. Taxes support societal needs such as education, healthcare, transportation, and public safety.

Here’s how a solid grasp of taxes enhances your financial health:

  • Understanding tax laws and available deductions and credits can reduce your taxable income and increase your net income or after-tax pay.
  • With a clear understanding of taxation, you can plan major life events and financial decisions, such as investments and retirement savings, in a way that is tax-efficient.
  • Avoid Surprises: Being tax literate means you're less likely to encounter unexpected tax bills or penalties. 
  • Understanding the tax implications of different investment accounts can influence where you allocate your funds.

Ways to Boost Your Financial Literacy 

Improving your financial literacy is a practical step towards better financial health and independence. This process involves learning and applying financial principles to your daily life, helping you make smarter decisions about saving, spending, investing, and managing debt. 

Young adult browsing personal finance tutorials on laptopHere are several methods you can use to enhance your financial future:

Take Online Courses on Money Management 

Online courses are a fantastic way to enhance your financial literacy. While platforms like Udemy and Coursera offer a wealth of courses, here are some key topics that cover financial skills:

Browse Personal Finance Tutorials on YouTube 

Watching free videos on YouTube is another excellent way to learn more about personal finance without spending much. Here are the top-rated personal finance channels to learn about budgeting, investing, and taxes:

  • Graham Stephan: investing, savings strategies, and personal finance tips for wealth building for younger audiences.
  • The Financial Diet: budgeting, living frugally, and making informed spending decisions.
  • His and Her Money: managing finances, debt, wealth building, and money management in marriage.
  • Debt-Free Millennials: budgeting, saving, and investing for millennials.
  • BeatTheBush: credit cards, investing, and ways to increase your savings.
  • MappedOutMoney: budgeting, saving for big purchases, and financial planning.
  • Financial Education: stock market investing, personal finance basics, and ways to grow wealth.

Read These Books

You can find many books with financial advice to help you become financially literate. Here are the top 14 books about personal finance.

  • Cary Siegel's "Why Didn't They Teach Me This in School?”: budgeting and investing for young adults
  • Robert T. Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad Poor Dad": generating passive income through investment.
  • Erin Lowry's "Broke Millennial": tips on navigating financial challenges, managing student loans, and budgeting for millennials.
  • Dave Ramsey's "The Total Money Makeover": debt elimination and savings.
  • David Bach's "The Automatic Millionaire": automating finances, saving, investing, and paying off debt.
  • Scott Trench's "Set for Life": saving, investing, and creating additional income streams.
  • Morgan Housel's "The Psychology of Money": psychological affect on financial decisions and long-term wealth accumulation.
  • David Bach's "Smart Women Finish Rich": wealth accumulation through smart financial planning and investing.
  • William D. Danko and Thomas J. Stanley's "The Millionaire Next Door": common traits of wealthy individuals contributing to their financial success.

Seek Financial Advisory Services 

Financial advisors come with a breadth of knowledge and specialize in various areas, capable of providing tailored advice to suit your financial situation.

Young adult meeting with financial advisorHere is how you can find a financial advisor:

  1. Referrals: Ask friends, family, or colleagues for recommendations. Personal referrals can lead you to trusted advisors who've already proven their value.
  2. Professional Directories: Utilize professional directories from reputable organizations such as the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). These platforms allow you to search for certified advisors by location and specialty.
  3. Financial Institutions: Many banks and credit unions offer financial advisory services to their customers. Contact your bank to inquire about consultations.
  4. Online Platforms: Websites like XY Planning Network and Fee-Only Network can help you find fee-only financial planners who don't earn commissions from selling financial products, reducing potential conflicts of interest.

Sum Up

Boosting your financial literacy isn't just about reading and learning; it's about applying practical steps to manage your money better. Each strategy is a step towards financial stability, from setting clear goals and creating a budget to paying down debt and investing wisely. 

Remember, the journey to financial literacy is ongoing. Regularly monitoring your credit, understanding your spending, and adjusting your savings and investments as your life changes are key to maintaining healthy finances. With each informed decision, you're not just saving money but investing in your future.


The FAQ section is here to answer your most pressing questions about financial literacy, offering quick insights and guidance on managing your finances effectively. 

What are Some Reasons Why Financial Literacy is Important?

Financial literacy is important for the following reasons:

  • Budgeting and Managing Money: Financial literacy helps individuals create a budget that accounts for their income, expenses, and savings. This skill is fundamental in managing money effectively and avoiding living paycheck to paycheck.
  • Debt Management: Understanding interest rates, credit card usage, and loans prevent individuals from falling into debt traps. Financially literate people can make informed decisions about borrowing and manage debt responsibly.
  • Saving for the Future: Knowledge about savings accounts, investments, and retirement plans enables individuals to plan for long-term goals and emergencies, ensuring financial security in the future.
  • Making Informed Financial Decisions: Financial literacy provides the tools to compare financial products, understand taxes, and make educated choices about insurance, investments, and other financial matters.
  • Preventing Fraud: Being financially literate means being aware of common scams and understanding how to protect personal financial information, reducing the risk of fraud and identity theft.
  • Financial Independence: It empowers individuals to be self-sufficient and less reliant on others for financial support, leading to personal freedom and confidence.

How Do You Become Financially Literate?

To become financially literate, start by educating yourself on financial basics such as budgeting, saving, investing, credit, and debt management. Then, enhance your financial literacy by:

  • Budgeting: Learn how to create and maintain a budget to manage your expenses effectively. Use tools or apps to track your spending habits.
  • Reading Books and Articles: There are numerous books and online resources that offer insights into personal finance.
  • Taking Online Courses: Enroll in free or paid online courses that cover fundamental financial topics.
  • Listening to Podcasts: Financial podcasts can provide you with up-to-date information and tips in an easy-to-digest format.
  • Seeking Professional Advice: Consider consulting with a financial advisor who can provide personalized guidance based on your financial situation.
  • Practicing Saving: Open a savings account and make regular contributions to build your savings and understand interest accrual.
  • Learning about Investing: Familiarize yourself with different types of investments and the risks associated with them.
  • Understanding Credit Scores: Educate yourself about credit scores and reports and how your actions affect them.

What Are Some Examples of Financial Literacy?

Here are some of the top examples of being financially literate:

  • Budgeting: Understanding how to plan and manage your income and expenses to meet financial goals and obligations.
  • Saving: Knowing how to systematically put money aside for future needs, emergencies, or retirement.
  • Investing: Being familiar with different types of investments, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, and understanding the risks and benefits associated with each.
  • Debt Management: Recognizing the cost of borrowing money, managing existing debts effectively, and understanding how to use credit wisely.
  • Tax Planning: Having the knowledge to efficiently manage your tax obligations and take advantage of any applicable deductions or credits.
  • Understanding Financial Products and Services: Being able to compare and choose between various banking and insurance products that meet your needs.
  • Financial Planning: Setting long-term financial goals and developing strategies to achieve them, such as saving for a child's education or planning for retirement.
  • Risk Management: Understanding insurance and other methods to mitigate financial risks associated with health, property, and income.

Why Is It Important to Learn About Financial Literacy at a Young Age?

Learning about financial literacy early on helps build a solid foundation for making informed decisions about money management, budgeting, saving, and investing. It equips young people with the skills to handle financial challenges, avoid debt, and achieve financial stability and independence as they grow older.

What Are Some Long-term Consequences of Not Learning to Save While You’re Young?

Not learning to save early can lead to a lack of emergency funds, reliance on debt for unexpected expenses, delayed retirement savings, and missed opportunities for wealth accumulation. This can result in financial stress and limited retirement savings.

How Do You Think Learning About Personal Finance Can Help You in Your Future and Right Now?

Learning about personal finance can empower you to make smarter financial decisions in the future, leading to better credit, the ability to invest and grow your wealth, reduced financial stress, and a clearer path to achieving personal and financial goals. 

It also offers immediate benefits by helping to manage debt and budget more effectively while laying the groundwork for long-term financial security.

What Do Financial Planning Skills Ultimately Enable an Individual to Do?

Financial planning skills enable an individual to set and reach financial goals, manage income and expenses more effectively, save for emergencies, invest for future growth, and prepare for retirement. These skills provide a roadmap for making informed choices about spending, saving, and investing, leading to greater financial security and independence.

Ana-Maria Sanders, author at OpenLoans
Lead Writer
Ana-Maria Sanders is a highly-regarded writer with over a decade of expertise in the personal finance sphere, specializing in loans and credit cards.
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