Financial Literacy Chronicles, The Beginning

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open book on table with light in backgroun

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Did you know two-thirds of Americans are financially illiterate?

They can’t even answer a question about calculating a simple interest payment.

And it’s no wonder, considering only 20 US states teach economics to high school students according to the Council for Economic Education.

Did you know only 17 states require personal finance education at the high school level?

Or that the United States ranks 14th as a country in financial literacy of its citizens?

If you, like me, have a passion for numbers and all things money, take some time to browse the Household Credit report (Q4 ’16) from the Federal Reserve.  It’s full of interesting charts, but none more interesting than this one, showing we have over $12,000,000,000,000 in total household debt in the US.

And growing.

In fact, we’re already back to 2008 levels.

And since 2008, it’s been student loans and auto loans growing the fastest.  It seems many people haven’t received the memo that borrowing money to purchase a depreciating asset is a losing proposition. The only thing worse than buying a new car is taking out a loan to buy a new car.

Federal Reserve chart showing total household debt and composition

To see the scope of the problem, check out this interactive map of financial literacy education across the U.S. courtesy of the Council for Economic Education.

As you’d guess, green is good, red is bad.

US map showing state of personal finance education in 2016Interesting, huh?

Especially if you click through to the personal finance information.  Wouldn’t you want to be a fly on that wall where the various Boards of Education for these states decide they are going to teach economics, but not teach personal finance.  After all, what good is knowing supply curves and marginal cost, if you don’t know how about the power of compound interest or dangers of minimum payments on your credit card.

The CEE also put together this short video summarizing their findings for the state of personal finance knowledge across the U.S.

Take the 2 minutes to watch it, and then share it (along with this article!) with your friends.

It’s a problem.  A big hairy audacious problem.

So what are you going to do about it?

Enter The Financial Literacy Chronicles

After participating in the Happiness Day Celebrations at The Pursuit Of Happiness, I was stuck by two thoughts.

One, it’s wonderful to see someone so dedicated to increasing emotional well-being in the world like Wes.  Especially in today’s society where it’s so easy to be jaded and cynical.

And finally, how could I do my bit to improve people’s financial well-being?

Thus, the Financial Literacy Chronicles were born.

The United States ranks 14th as a country in financial literacy of its citizens.

The Financial Literacy Chronicles are interviews with top financial writers, sharing their education, upbringing, and stories that made them obsessed (and we are obsessed) with personal finance and financial literacy.

And to kick it off right, I’ll be sharing an interview with a new writer every day in April to celebrate Financial Literacy Month.

That’s right!  30 interviews in a row for the whole month!

Financial literacy for all my friends!

So Who’s Invited To The Financial Literacy Chronicles?

No, Dave Ramsey is a busy man, so no interview with him.

Yet.

Although his team did point me to his ongoing efforts for financial literacy, including his $58,000 Financial Literacy Challenge.

So to get the ball rolling, I’ve lined up interviews with some of the stars of the personal finance universe.

Giants like Sam at Financial Samurai, and Michelle from Making Sense of Cents, not to mention Money Boss J.D. Roth, just to name a few.

And let’s not forget some of the popular up and comers including Miss Mazuma and Freedom Is Groovy, among others.

Who have we heard from so far?

It’s a financial literacy extravaganza!

How Can I Get More Financial Literacy Chronicles?

For starters, keep coming back every day for the month of April.

Bookmark Enwealthen, subscribe to the mailing list, or grab the RSS feed.  Whatever works best for you so you can be sure to catch every single interview.

In fact, there’s been such an overwhelming response from the personal finance community, there are more interviews than could possibly fit in one month.  So I’m planning to continue the series as an ongoing feature on Enwealthen, with monthly, or possibly semi-monthly, financial literacy interviews going forward. If you’re a personal finance enthusiast and want to be interviewed, please contact me.

Finally, for the truly impatient, be sure to come back April 1 and read the first interview.  You’ll find a special bonus, just for you!

Please Help

Now, you know the sad state of financial literacy in the US.  So here’s a chance to channel your inner Jerry Maguire and help me help you!

I need your feedback.

Is this a good idea?  Do you want more interviews?  What questions should I ask?  Who else should I interview?  Comment below with your thoughts and suggestions.

10 COMMENTS

  1. This is going to be awesome! Thanks again for sharing and looking forward to reading all the interviews!!

    Those statistics make me sad but also motivated to help. Personal finance should not be a taboo subject to talk about anymore. Let’s solve this issue and get people on their way to financial success!
    Erik @ The Mastermind Within recently posted The Richest Man in BabylonMy Profile

    • It is exciting! As I wrap up the editing for April and the additional surprise April 1, I’m getting even more excited. Engaging experiences written by compelling writers makes for a good read.

      The even sadder thing is everyone in my personal life I’ve shared this series with has said the same thing – “There’s a financial literacy month?” Not only are people financially illiterate in general, they’re not even aware that anyone is trying to help them. We can all do a better job to spread the word and share the power of financial literacy. Thanks for helping!

    • Thanks for getting us started off on the right foot, Green Swan!

      It’s been fascinating editing all the interviews. Some of the answers are predictable, but so many are unexpected and insightful, it was a thrill every time I got a new one to add to the month. I hope everyone reading will enjoy them as much as I have!

    • Prepare to be learned, DivHut! 🙂

      I put much thought into the interview questions to draw out answers both interesting and literacy-focused, and even then, had more surprising questions and answers provided during the interviews. So there’s definitely something for everyone, no matter your current level of financial knowledge.

    • Thanks for participating! From favorite blogs, to favorite books, to childhood memories, each interview is both fascinating and educational.

      I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s reactions and comments!

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