A pair of surveys published by the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center highlighted the shocking lack of financial literacy among adults in the U.S.—especially American women.
Some women (and men) may feel embarrassed to admit that they don’t fully understand certain financial concepts—like what an annuity is or how stocks and bonds work. But a lack of financial knowledge really isn’t cause to be ashamed.
The truth is that most of us simply aren’t taught proper money management skills, not in our homes, nor in school. In fact, you could have an MBA from any of the country’s top colleges or universities and still not necessarily know much about personal finances.
So what should you do to becoming more financially savvy? Here are three surefire ways to become more financially literate.
1. Get a financial coach/financial adviser
Among those who are financially successful, one reason for their success is that they tend to have advisers who give them good advice.
Again, there’s no shame in admitting what you don’t know. So begin acknowledging the financial gaps in your knowledge and then consider hiring a financial adviser, planner or coach who can help educate you about various topics: like investing basics, or how interest rates work.
There are fee-only advisers who are very affordable, some as little as $50 to $100 for an hour-long consultation. So don’t think professional help is too expensive.
Unfortunately, studies show that only one out of three women has a financial adviser. That’s a big mistake and a missed opportunity to improve your financial literacy.
2. Step up your personal, professional and social network
If you’re hanging around with friends and colleagues who are all pretty much in the same financial boat that you’re in—i.e., financially illiterate and maybe cash-strapped—it’s time to upgrade your set of friends and acquaintances.
Ditto for your social network. Don’t just waste time on Facebook telling people what you ate for dinner or where you traveled. Join a LinkedIn group focused on financial issues and learn from other like-minded people who want to get ahead.
African-Americans in particular tend to over-index on social media, meaning we spend more time social networking than other groups. So just be sure that you’re not among those who are constantly using social media solely for entertainment or passive purposes, as opposed to career advancement or other potential networking purposes.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett is famous for, among other things, saying you should always surround yourself with people who are better/smarter than you are. This works for money issues too. You learn from your circle of friends and acquaintances.
3. Join the club
One good way to boost your financial literacy is to join a club or group devoted to financial education. So you might join an investing club for beginners, or maybe enroll in a free or low cost money-management course offered by a non-profit agency or even a community college.
The goal is to immerse yourself in the language of money and to devote specific time (at least on a monthly basis; but weekly is even better!) to helping you learn and grow in the area of personal finances.
By using these three strategies, you can boost your financial literacy and hopefully pass along a stronger financial legacy to your heirs as well.
Lynnette Khalfani-Cox is a personal finance expert and co-founder of the free financial advice site, AskTheMoneyCoach.com. Follow Lynnette on Twitter @themoneycoach and Google Plus.