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6 ways to improve your financial literacy

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Being financially literate means having the knowledge and confidence to effectively manage, save and invest money for you and your family. This can include everything from getting out of debt, sticking to a budget, buying insurance, exploring investments and creating college or retirement savings plans.

We all have different levels of financial literacy. The average American rates their level of financial literacy as 6.2 out of ten, with the highest levels among the Baby Boomers and Gen X. Perhaps you have a 401(k), but aren’t sure how else to plan for retirement, or maybe you’re wondering whether you should pay off your mortgage or pad the college fund. You may just be looking to make more confident financial decisions and have your paycheck go as far as possible.

Wherever you are on your financial journey, here are six ways to help improve your financial literacy skills to help you achieve your short- and long-term goals.

1. Subscribe to financial newsletters.

For free financial news in your inbox, try subscribing to financial newsletters from trusted sources. You can explore a large variety of topics and gain expert insight into current events and personal finance trends. And if you’re not already a subscriber, you can subscribe to our Smart Strategies, designed to help you take your financial journey to the next level with insights on retirement planning best practices.

2. Listen to financial podcasts.

Podcasts can be a great way to soak up financial news while you do housework, run errands or walk the dog. You can find options that suit your interest on most podcast apps and music streaming services and hear directly from financial experts. Learn practical tips for managing your money, simple explanations on financial topics and how to build financial literacy as a family. For ideas, check out Best Personal Finance Podcasts to Listen To from U.S. News and World Report.

3. Read personal finance books.

If you prefer books, there's no shortage when it comes to learning about personal finance. Explore Insider's list of best personal finance books to find the top reads for budgeting and saving basics, paying off debt, advice for first-time investors and strategies for building wealth.

4. Use social media.

According to a 2023 Forbes Advisor survey, 79 percent of individuals between the ages of 18 and 41 turn to social media for financial information, including YouTube, Reddit and TikTok. You can use your favorite social media channels to follow financial experts, get links to interesting articles and watch videos that discuss financial topics. Consider joining a personal finance Facebook group where you can engage in conversations and share resources with other people in a community. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for a variety of articles on improving your financial well-being and building a more secure future.

5. Keep a budget.

All of the financial guidance from experts won’t mean much if you don’t know where your money is going every month. Start tracking your income and spending by setting up a budget using a simple spreadsheet or website app. Your budget lets you gain a better understanding of your spending habits and how your paycheck is allocated. With this knowledge, you can pinpoint places that may need to be tightened up or opportunities for putting more money toward your savings goals.

6. Talk to a financial professional.

A financial professional can be a good advocate to have in your corner when you’re expanding your financial know-how. They can answer your financial questions, whether it is about the basic day-to-day money situations or more complex long-term scenarios. You can also work together to assess your current situation and discuss a plan for meeting your financial needs and how to stay on track going forward.

Whatever your level of financial literacy, it’s important to keep your knowledge base growing. Be a lifelong learner and continue to seek out new information and strategies that can help improve your financial well-being. Every step you take toward getting a better handle on your financial situation is a step in the right direction. Knowledge is power and can help you make more wise and confident financial decisions through every stage of your life.

Want the most from your retirement? Get smarter with Smart Strategies from Athene. Your source for tips, tools and financial solutions that can help you live your best life.