Financial literacy – what’s that? It’s something I need desperately. But tackling financial literacy makes me queasy.
For the last 44 years I’ve been financially dumb; and like a dark raincloud, my financial stupidity rains down trouble on me.
At first look, financial literacy isn’t convenient or comfortable. And the excuses are endless: ‘I work full-time. My family needs me. I don’t know where to start. What if everyone finds out how bad at money I am? I just don’t have the energy for it. It scares me.’
Excuses. All of them.
But within each excuse to avoid learning about money lies the seeds of change. So, I guess it’s time for me to go back to kindergarten.
I’m Going To Financial Literacy Kindergarten!
Now that I’ve been humbled, I’m finally leaving financial ignorance behind. So, at this point, I think of myself as a financial kindergartner.
The word “kindergarten” comes from German, translated literally as “garden for the children.” Of course, it’s meaning is metaphorical, meaning, a “place where children can grow in a natural way.” 
You’ve probably attended kindergarten. It’s fun. There’s nap time, and snack time, and crayon time. There’s singing and playing and lots of friends. It allows children to “grow in a natural way.”
Perhaps the way I find myself now is a bit unnatural. What if there were a way of hacking financial literacy so that I could go to financial literacy kindergarten, as it were, and grow in financial wisdom in a more natural way?
Five Favorite Tools For Hacking Financial Literacy
– ONE –
Personal finance apps. There are plenty. Each with their fine points. Each with some downsides (thankfully, as a financial kindergartner, it’s not my concern). Most are free or have a free version, and that fits perfectly with where I’m at right now.
They’re easy to set up, too. If you use them, you will need to hand over your online banking password so that your data can be accessed, but their privacy policies are trustworthy, I’ve found. Be sure to turn on notifications. It will help you build good habits.
Penny App is my favorite financial kindergartner teacher. I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow her. Penny has made finances fun for me for the first time in my life.
– TWO –
Personal finance podcasts. For the first time in my 45 years, I don’t feel financially alone. Knowing that others have been where I am and completely turned around has given me the confidence to talk about these previously gauche, if not verboten, topics. Certainly, the podcasts cover many other topics, from basic to advanced, so find the topics and hosts that resonate with you most. Also free.
Podcast episodes that address these feelings are often titled something like, “How I paid off $50,000 in 25 months as a kindergarten teacher,” or some such. Look for them.
– THREE –
Personal finance books. OMG. There are so many. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that the Amazon reviews and ratings for each book are all over the place — 1 to 5 stars. And most of these books are not free. But I’m happy I found some good ones. I look forward to sharing them.
– FOUR –
Twitter. All my favorite personal finance people are on Twitter. Many of them started as financial kindergartners in their adult life. Just like me. Many of them are younger than me. They inspire me, and the things they share are helpful. Best of all, they enjoy connecting and are happy to talk about personal finance. Let’s connect.
– FIVE –
Habit building apps. I use them to set and track goals that help to advance my financial education in some way. They provide critical data for measuring my progress.
Speaking of data and measurement: a quick aside
(this is going to get wordy, so feel free to skip to the next subheading, LOL)
Scottish-Irish mathematical physicist and engineer, William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin OM GCVO PC FRS FRSE, a.k.a. Lord Kelvin , born in 1824, is credited with having said, “I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the state of Science, whatever the matter may be.” 
Oh, wow, I think he was talking about me.
I guess he spoke those words so often that, at some point, he decided he’d better figure out how to “nutshell” it, because Lord Kelvin (remember learning about Kelvins in high school physics? He’s that Kelvin) also said:
- “To measure is to know.”
- “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.”
Or maybe you’re more familiar with: “That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially,” often called Pearson’s Law and credited to – but, it seems, unsubstantiated – Karl Pearson, an English mathematician, born in 1857, who was originally named Carl with a “C” and not a “K” (don’t ask).
That was a fun bit of research, and also why I use habit building apps that provide measurement features.
My Financial Literacy Kryptonite
When I walk out into my financial literacy kindergarten, I feel powerful. I feel super. Yeah, super, like Superman!
And, just like Superman, I avoid financial literacy kryptonite, a.k.a., spreadsheets! But, hey, you know what? One superman’s kryptonite is another superman’s, um, cold glass of Guinness. Yeah! That!
So, if spreadsheets are your thing, then rock on, my friend.
How do you hack financial literacy? Is there anything you think I should add to my financial literacy kindergarten classes?
Even if it’s a spreadsheet, please share. Maybe I’ll make friends with them at some point. Until then, see you on the playground.
Photo credit: Once again, thank you, Ryan McGuire. Ryan is the creative mind behind Gratisography.com. He made the photo used in this post and makes his photos available for use by bloggers and other creatives at no charge.