I’m afraid of finance because all of my life, any time someone mentioned money, savings, or stocks, the adults in the room would groan slightly and slump into their seats. On top of that, only seven states have highly rated financial literacy programs integrated into their school systems, so it’s really no wonder that I just struggled to purchase my first box of checks, years into having savings, checking, and credit card accounts.
The world of finance is often seen as an incredibly complicated set of restrictions that only trained professionals could understand. Yet, less than one week into my new job at Doorways to Dreams (a nonprofit that works to promote economic prosperity for financially vulnerable people in the U.S.), I have a working understanding of the prepaid card market, the difference between savings bonds and treasury bonds, prize-linked savings accounts, retirement savings misfires and advancements (including the new-ish myRA) and the many ways our country’s financial landscape is unfriendly or inaccessible to low-income citizens, among other things.
The beauty of Google is that you no longer need a financial advisor to direct your questions to – you can search any term and find a “how things work” or step-by-step explanation of virtually any process. Do you understand stocks but ignore bonds? There’s a tutorial for that, complete with infographics and pictures. Have you been wondering how much money you need to save for retirement, and the easiest way to get there? There’s a calculator for that, and advice from many of the industry’s leaders just a few clicks away.
We may look at finances as “too complex” because on a personal level, saving is hard. There is a difference between hard and complicated though, and by committing just a small percentage of your time toward understanding the basics, you’ll find that finance doesn’t have to be so convoluted.