Many Americans admit that they fall short of mastering one of the most important life skills: financial literacy. It’s a crucial skill that many people, especially adults, were never taught in school or by their parents.
Regardless of generation or income level, adults from all walks of life struggle to master such financial basics as developing a budget, using credit wisely, learning how to save, and understanding banking terms. A survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association found that two in five U.S. adults give themselves a grade of C, D, or F on their knowledge of personal finance.
More than half of those who were surveyed admitted that they do not have a budget. One-third said they don’t pay all of their bills on time.
Money doesn’t come with instructions. Learning how to manage money is the first step people can take toward understanding and achieving their financial goals.
To help, some banks have created simplified disclosures that are written for the average person to understand. We are driven by the goal of making banking simple, clear, and personal.
Last year, across the 12-state footprint of Charter One and RBS Citizens, we worked with more than 120 nonprofit groups to bridge the gap between the private and nonprofit sectors and deliver financial literacy to consumers and small businesses. This year, we are expanding “Citizens Helping Citizens Manage Money,” a program we launched in 2013.
We are designating $1.5 million in financial literacy grants to community partners and have invited nonprofit groups to apply for grants. We have created an online educational resource center with information and tools to help consumers manage their money and be fiscally healthy.
All of us can be teachers about money. In our daily lives, all of us use advice we learned because someone shared financial wisdom. We are inviting people to tell us about their money mentors so we can share their stories with a broader audience.
We can educate adults and children alike, so that we all have the confidence to make informed decisions. In doing so, we ensure a more-stable economy in the sectors that adults most directly affect by their financial decisions: housing, consumer spending, saving, and retirement planning.
Joseph D. DiRocco is president of Charter One and RBS Citizens in Ohio.