Each year in April, we celebrate Financial Literacy Month. It’s a fantastic opportunity to inform and educate our servicemembers, their families, and the military communities about the importance of financial literacy and saving money.
For the entire month of April, Armed Forces Bank and many other banks, credit unions, local businesses, and nonprofit organizations around the country will step up and share messages about financial literacy. Financial Literacy Month is a national campaign by the Jump$tart coalition.
Keep reading to learn more about Financial Literacy and how financial readiness can start with savings.
A Difficult Year Shed Light on the Importance of Saving
It was an extremely challenging 2020 with the pandemic, high unemployment rate, and more. Many beloved businesses in our local communities were forced to shut their doors. And many of us experienced an overall fear of the unknown as well as uncertainty of when our lives would return to something like normal.
We learned a lot about ourselves, and we had to quickly adapt to the “new” normal of wearing masks, social distancing, working from home, changing our daily routines, and facing the possibility -- or the reality -- of financial hardships right in front of us .
Who could have ever predicted that we would come to such an abrupt halt that would change our lives so drastically? Was anyone ready for this? Were we prepared to handle what was going to come our way? Did we anticipate the long-term effects of how we go about our daily lives?
While it is easy to dwell on the negatives surrounding COVID-19, you may be surprised to learn about some of the more positive implications of the pandemic.
It is amazing how many people have become chameleons of change over the past 12 months and how quickly 330 million people in the United States modified behaviors in such short order.
The national savings rate skyrocketed to 32% in April 2020. Revolving debt for consumers was reduced by $123 billion. The level of resilience we have is incredible. We were faced with a daunting wake-up call and an arduous task of dealing with things for which we were not ready.
Being Financially Ready and Financially Literate
There were a lot of lessons learned this past year. And one lesson that stands out above all the rest is that we must be financially ready with our savings in order to be financially literate.
We must prepare for the unexpected. We must change our behaviors. Many of us are familiar with the expression: “The only constant in life is change.” While most of us already knew this, especially as military families, it was particularly front in center for all of us in the past year.
Being financially ready means having a safety net and a financial cushion ready to absorb the shock of a once-every-100-years pandemic -- or another unexpected event, such as a car accident or an illness -- which is, unfortunately, not as rare.
Saving money and being financially ready starts with setting a goal -- it’s not easy. If it were easy, anyone could do it. It takes discipline, commitment and sacrifice. Saving money can come in many shapes and forms. Here are a few examples:
- Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to a savings account.
- Split your paycheck automatically between checking and savings accounts.
- Enroll in a retirement plan such as the Blended Retirement Savings or 401(k) plan.
- Find a bank or credit union that offers a round-up program for debit card purchases that automatically transfers cents to a savings account.
- Pay off high interest credit card debt to reduce finance charges.
- Review your monthly budget and decide how you can eliminate unnecessary expenses.
- Take advantage of military discounts offered by a plethora of companies.
What other successful methods have you implemented to save money? Share with us!
About Financial Literacy Month
The Jump$tart Coalition is a nonprofit organization with the mission of providing tools for financial literacy to Americans -- especially to our youth. Originally, Jump$tart introduced Youth Financial Literacy Day more than two decades ago; in 2000, it was expanded to the entire month of April. In 2004, The Senate passed a resolution designating April as Financial Literacy Month for the entire U.S.
Here are some of the virtual events and resources to explore for Financial Literacy Month:
- Money Smart Week: From Saturday, April 10 through Saturday, April 17, there will be one live online event each day, focusing on a variety of topics related to personal finance. Presenters include the Internal Revenue Service and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- The Council for Economic Education: Offering a variety of personal finance webinars. Sign up here.
- Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC): Sign up for the OCC’s free financial literacy newsletter to learn more about financial literacy events and resources.
Financial Literacy Month Is Here!
Financial Literacy Month is here… are you ready?
While Financial Literacy Month draws special attention to saving and financial readiness during one month, we encourage our clients to save and learn about finances year-round. At a time when people are filing taxes and receiving tax returns, finances are on the minds of many Americans.
Armed Forces Bank is here to help our clients enhance their quality of life, one financial decision at a time.