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Next month (April) is National Financial Literacy Month, dedicated to encouraging and helping Americans to develop smarter, healthier financial habits. Financial literacy has to do with how we understand the management of money, how to invest it, how to donate and how to make informed financial decisions.

Kudos to The LSU Cale P. & Katherine Smith Student Financial Management Center for their creation of the annual TRANSIT, LSU’s financial literacy course that is now required for all first year students. The course is so effective that other colleges and universities have adopted it on their own campuses. Teaching students how to manage money would seem obvious, but in the U.S. very few high schools and colleges have traditionally required a course in money management.

As for the rest of us, this is a great time each year to re-assess our financial lives and make the necessary changes to ensure a more prosperous future. Financial Literacy Month was started in 2004 via a U.S. Senate resolution which resolved to raise public awareness about the importance of financial education in the United States and the serious consequences associated with a lack of understanding about personal finances. Each year the Senate votes to re-instate Financial Literacy Month.

Fortunately, there are a number of available resources for individuals to learn the basics of money management. Start with a visit to the website of Money Management International, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people manage their finances and learn more about the financial world. Here you will find 30 Steps to Financial Wellness that you can cover in 30 days. Among the most important of these steps:

  • Assess your finances
  • Get copies of your credit report and clean up your credit
  • Review your debts
  • Set short and long-term financial goals
  • Identify and document your fixed monthly expenses

You may also want to visit the site of the National Financial Educators Council (NFEC), where you can access free individual educational resources, such as webinars in which you can participate on your own time and your own pace.

You have heard the old adage, “If you know better, you do better.” Financial Literacy Month is all about knowing the best ways to manage your financial life.

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