Financial education or the lack thereof
How are you all doing? Week off to a good start? If yes, wiggle your shoulders; if no, celebrate the people who are having a good start, your better days are ahead. Lately I’ve been watching a few channels of people who are getting out of debt and I find it so inspiring. While I’m not in debt (Thank God), I feel so much joy watching other people get financial freedom. However the one common thread I have noticed is that people don’t always get into debt cause they were “irresponsible with their money” contrary to what I believed. I have found that it often starts with an inevitable expense such as school, a medical bill or a lifestyle that you could once afford but no longer can; that snowballs with interest into an intimidating number that gives you anxiety.
I am always concerned about the stunning lack of financial education that I have received. I feel like I’m always a foul step away from doing lasting damage to my finances! It’s such a frustrating feeling because it seems like everything is mapped out till graduation but somebody forgot to mention the financial implications of that process or the life you will be embarking on. Yes you are earning a decent salary and that’s dandy but what next? Also don’t get me started on how taboo it is to talk about! You can’t ask someone in your field openly about how much they earn. We would rather go to Glassdoor -which is a great resource- to get the very same answer. We don’t speak openly about how people got into debt or even just the fact that you may be broke even though you’re working at a “really great job”. We live on credit so we can have a credit score and then proceed to die a slow death on credit because collections calls you religiously every week demanding a price much larger than what you actually spent.
I think talking about money is the next coming of age talk that everyone needs to have. We rightfully made such a big fuss about having the sex talk with pre-teens and adolescents so that they make informed decisions about their bodies and are aware of the changes ahead of them. We really need another “talk” for young adults. We need to demystify finances and speak more openly about our relationship with money and our mistakes. The system is certainly not built to support open communication on financial management but if we all share our lessons then maybe fewer people will feel so alone with the consequences of their financial decisions.
So here are some of my financial questions and if you have answers I’d love to hear them
- Why do we file taxes and why do we get money back when we do?
- Where can I check my credit score?
- Does checking your credit score really hurt your credit score? (This seems counter intuitive but I’ve heard it)
- When should you start investing?
- Who should you talk to about investing?
- What can you invest in?
- Has anyone tried WealthSimple? Is it really intuitive? Is it truly “simple” to understand?
- What’s the best kind of credit card?
- What interest rate is reasonable for a savings account?
- How much do you need to save to own a home?
- Can you buy a home without a mortgage? If no, what’s the best kind of mortgage? [Best for me in this case would be defined as something that I’m not stuck paying for the rest of my life.]
- How do other people manage a budget? I’ve tried Excel but it just felt like a lot of work to maintain.
- When/how do you start saving for retirement?
- Do I need to set up a pension account?
- How do I separate what I’m saving for? Once my emergency fund is set up, what next?
Some helpful resources I’ve found online are
- The financial diet: They share helpful tips on managing money and are a great launching pad to start having some slightly more informed discussions on money
- Aja Dang: She is working to pay off her debt right now and is sharing her journey in detail. She also has a budget template available
- Levo League: This is more career related than directly financial however there are some interesting articles that could help bridge the gap.
I’d love to hear for you. What money questions do you have? Also, if you have answers to anything I asked above please help your girl out 🙂