Sunday, February 12, 2006

Becoming financially literate

A reader had commented on a previous post asking to share some of what I'm learning about the world of money. Now I am just a fledgeling, so I cannot give any kind of advice, but I can recommend you to do what I'm doing: Educate yourself.

The whole world of finance has petrified me with fear -- the images conjured up in my head were powerful older white men in pinstriped suits walking briskly to and from their gleaming sky scrapers and into their fancy cars. The terminology used sounded like a foreign language and because I had no money in the bank, I couldn't play the game even if I wanted to!

Well, I still don't have much. But I do have a willingness to do two things:

1. To face my fears
2. Learn about it

Ignorance breeds fear -- they eat off each other. We all know it and have seen this happen in many arenas of life. We hear about it every day on the news. But the world of money and finance is a place that most people refuse to face their ignorance of it, so it eats them up alive, hence all the debt and lack of savings we are seeing in the majority of Americans today.

I've decided to take control of this situation. Knowledge is power and you know what, it's all actually quite interesting to learn about! You do have to learn some new terminology and think when you read, and sometimes re-read. But didn't you do that in college with no complaints? And you got through it, right? How is this any different? Soon you start to learn and when you see a TV show on finance, you don't flip the channel right away because suddenly they aren't speaking in a foreign language any longer.

Then you start dabbling a little bit in what you have been reading. Simple baby steps. Move your savings into a high yeild account like ING Direct, for example. You can do it at home in your pajamas. It's thrilling to know you can make a difference in your family's income and you didn't even have to leave the house. That's empowering!

Small steps. I'm still at the very beginning of this journey, but I've made the decision to go and I'm already planting seeds. The hardest thing to do is to START.

I'm reading a couple of basic finacial books that spell out the fundamentals of investing and finance in an interesting and easy to understand way. Both I checked out from the library and the more you read the more your list of books will too. I urge you to start with them too:

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Rober Kiyosaki
The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suze Orman

Just take a look. Face your fears.


amygeekgrl said...

cool, thank you. :)
i think jody has 'rich dad, poor dad' among his many financial books. maybe i will take a look.

alise said...

It is interesting to me that you point out in your previous blog that we don't teach finance in school. When I was teaching full-time, I directly involved my students in the reality of school costs such as paper and "model magic". Because it was my first time teaching, we had to de-construct what the problem really was when we ran out of paper to begin with, how much money the school set aside for paper for our classroom, how many sheets of paper that meant per student per day. It caused the children to wonder how much money it cost for them to live every day , so they designed their own math unit that involved some very complicated stuff and many, many variables. They ended up with a great project (I think it won several awards), a good sense of how much things really cost and why, and they decided to have a farmer's market to earn money for me to buy supplies that they felt they needlessly squandered earlier in the year (figuring in compensation for my time and gas). My point is that you are right. It is scary not to understand finances. A lot of parents stress over money and try to hide it from the kids, but kids just see the stress and don't understand what it is from. They do understand money.

Running2Ks said...

That stuff makes my head swim, but you are so right--we need to know.

Jyotsna said...


I think it is great that you are using this time now while Aiden is little to get a handle of the money issues

Sometimes when I put something in my cart to buy, then put it back, Ravi points out that we were "GOING" to buy it...why aren't we now.

I have struggled with what to say to him, since I decided not to buy something, but didn't want him to feel that we didn't have enough money for the most important things. Telling kids about finances is scary to me.

Jyotsna (who is now posting regularly again!).

Amy said...

Well, we need to educate ourselves first then our children. Alise, you had a great idea and that's a wonderful way to start them out. Once kids are teens, though, we need to get serious about educating them -- and giving them their own chunk of money to invest in their way is a great way to start. It does make the head swim at first, but so does any new, important topic. (Remember your university classes?)