Why Is Financial Health Such a Big Deal?


You probably encounter young store clerks who can’t make change without the digital register. You likely know kids who own nearly every electronics gadget advertised. Some teens in your neighborhood might drive fancier cars than you. Yes, affluenza abounds.

Teens—like most of us—practice spending well. In fact, many don’t know what to do with a dollar if they don’t spend it. Essentially, they lack financial wisdom. These young consumers need education on how to use credit cards, buy a car, get a loan, invest savings, find insurance, start retirement plans and more. They need to know how to deal with banks, credit unions, brokers and financial advisors, too.

Our nation’s economic success depends on raising the financial health of our young citizens.

Unfortunately, students in many states are not required to take a course in personal finance, which is partly why most graduate from high school with little or no financial savvy. Some administrators say it’s too expensive to add that class. But the cost of not doing so is already enormous—more homeowners facing foreclosures, soaring credit card debt, more personal bankruptcies, more students defaulting on college loans, and lack of retirement nest eggs.

While both parents and teachers should help educate teens, they may not know exactly how to boost their own financial health. That’s why so many organizations offer financial education opportunities such as the DASH for the STASH program and contest from the Investor Protection Institute, JumpStart conferences or Money Smart Week from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Even a little financial education will reap economic benefits going forward. Cultivating financially healthy consumers will give America fiscally better business owners, employees, parents, politicians, caregivers and retirees.

Retirement? That’s too far off? Alas, your retirement cards are stacked long before age 65 or 66.

Oh, we all have good intentions to plan for retirement but most typically aren’t motivated enough to change daily financial habits. In fact, most will spend more time planning a single vacation or buying a car. Oblivious to our financial future, we just play and work away week after week, year after year. Paying for daily expenses and meeting our needs are the priority, right?

It’s this steady stream of ordinary, daily choices that cement our path, and often it’s a road in the opposite direction of financial independence. Choices quickly become habits, habits that can last a lifetime. You see, it’s not one or two big financial decisions you make that set up a rosy retirement or financial independence, just like it’s not one meal with broccoli or one week of workouts at the gym that keep us healthy.

Staying in good financial health is a habit….Being able to manage money well is a lifetime skill, just like learning to be polite, to eat sensibly or to brush your teeth. The earlier you cultivate good money habits, the easier it is to earn, spend, save, invest, and borrow responsibly.

Since today is #FinHealthMatters day for the Center for Financial Services Innovation, why not look at your financial habits?  See how your financial fitness compares here. Are you healthy?


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