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April is Financial Literacy Month!

April is Financial Literacy Month, and a great time to think about some important lessons everyone can learn about finances. Whether you’re a parent looking to make talking money with your kids easier or a professional looking for a few tips, there’s always something to learn. Below are a couple fun activities you can do to expand your financial knowledge.

Young woman riding her white retro hipster bike

1.) Make a financial date night
Many people dread doing anything with their money. Unless there’s a serious issue, they don’t think about their bills or their paychecks. When something serious comes up, they do little more than panic and figure out how much money to throw at it so it’ll go away. Dealing with money can cause fear to stir for many, but not dealing with it can only make things worse.

If you want to improve your knowledge of finances this month, schedule a financial date night. It doesn’t matter if you’re partnered or on your own, it works the same way. Pick a day when there’s nothing good on TV, no major social events and no serious distractions. Put some light music on. Sit down with your bills, your paycheck and anyone else who matters to your finances and figure out where you stand. When you do this, you might be surprised at how empowering it feels to know you have control over your finances. It also allows you to be proactive, and thus less stressed, about money and unexpected bills or expenses that might arise.
2.) Build a list of needs and wants

One of the best ways to build an efficient budget is to start from a list of priorities. What do you spend your money on each month? Make a list of all your expenses. Then, break them into one of three categories.
The first category is the essential, non-negotiable bills. These are your big-ticket essentials that have serious consequences for missed payments. Your auto loan, your rent or mortgage, your utilities and your taxes go here. This is the bare minimum you need to bring in each month.

The second category is the essential, negotiable obligations. These are unsecured loans such as credit cards and student debt. You need to pay them, but if you have to miss a payment, these are the ones to miss. Paying these off is a priority after you make your essential payments, and you may have some room to negotiate and reduce these payments if things get dicey.

The third category is the inessential spending. This is everything else you spend money on each month, like cable, getting your nails done, etc. This is the best place to make cuts when you want to shift your priorities.
Making a list of priorities is the first step to making solid plans and reshaping your own financial destiny. When you know where your money is going, you can start to move from financially existing to intentionally spending. That’s the beginning of improved financial literacy.

Dealing with your money and finances doesn't need to be a dreadful event. Give yourself the time and space to focus on your finances at least once a month, and you'll be ahead of the game and in a better position to keep it that way.