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Why I Care About Financial Literacy

Financial literacy awarenessAs you  may know, April is Financial Literacy Month. I was honored when Shannon at The Heavy Purse asked me to participate in her carnival celebrating this month. Today, I’ll tell you why I care about financial literacy and how it has changed my life for the better.

If you are a regular reader, you know that up until a couple of years ago, my husband and I were swimming in debt. We are well educated, productive people. We haven’t had any crazy medical expenses or lost jobs. We simply lived above our means and tried to fill what we lacked emotionally with things. I think we felt entitled to a certain lifestyle because we went to school for a long time and earned good incomes. I also was a workaholic who had become disillusioned with my career path. I believe I spent money to try and make up for the stress and unhappiness I felt at work.

We used to get to the end of the month and be out of money. We brought in plenty, but we spent it faster than it was coming in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried over working myself into oblivion only to see it all go to the credit cards. I seriously thought about quitting it all and getting a job at the animal shelter or as a baggage screener at the airport for a fraction of my current salary. I was already broke, so what difference would it make? After some soul searching, arguing, and finally getting mad at our debt, we were able to make changes and turn our lives around. It took some time. It did get frustrating, and we certainly had setbacks, but I’m happy to say we are now debt free except for our home and rental mortgages. I’ve been able to cut my work schedule to part time, and I actually enjoy what I do again. I remember why I wanted to be an optometrist instead of seeing it as a way to pay the bills.

You don’t have to have a doctorate degree to be financially literate. It’s actually pretty simple, and if you follow a few simple rules, you can change your financial future.

  • Write down all of your debts and interest rates.
  • Start tracking every penny you spend
  • Stop spending money on things you don’t need.
  • Find a way to start tacking your debts.
  • Allow yourself small rewards to celebrate each debt you pay off.
  • Look at every non-necessary purchase and decide if it adds value or happiness to your life. If it doesn’t, you don’t need it.
  • Think long term. Where do you want to be in a year, five years, ten years? If your current lifestyle isn’t going to get you there, it’s time to make changes. It also does no good to repay your debts if you run them right back up again.

While becoming financially literate has improved my happiness a million times over, I think the biggest reason that ultimately brought on change was our daughter. We have a 6 year old who is like a sponge. Whether you want to believe it or not, kids notice what their parents do from a very early age. I don’t want her to have to figure it out when she’s in debt and almost 40 years old. I will give her the tools so that being smart financially becomes second nature. My parents never wanted us to worry about money growing up, but I wish we had. It might have saved me from worrying about it as an adult. I also don’t want her to have to take care of us when we get older because we blew all of our money and have no assets other than a closet full of clothes and a fancy vacuum cleaner (yes, I did once finance a vacuum).

Ultimately it’s up to you in choosing to learn and practice financial literacy. They generally don’t teach it in school, and often our parents don’t teach it at home. I care about being financially literate for my sanity and for the legacy I will leave through my daughter. There really are a million reasons to get your financial house in order, and unless you like debt, uncertainty, and sleepless nights, there really is no reason not to.

What makes you care about financial literacy? Did your parents give you great money lessons, or did you figure it out on your own?


About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. My parents taught me the basics of saving money and not going into debt. But they didn’t really provide much training in what to do with the money after I saved it. I had to learn everything I know about investing on my own.

  2. It is interesting that they don’t teach such a basic life skill at school. I mean they teach ancient history and crazy maths that no one ever uses, but money management – don’t be stupid, who would need that?

  3. My parents did give me some money lessons, but they also seemed resigned to working 9-5 and making a middle-class income. I have been motivated to pursue side income and learn more about how money is made and how wealthy people go about it. I plan on leveraging my resources to create more cash flow and in turn more security!

  4. Wonderful story, Kim. We got into our mess in the same way: simply living above our means. It’s funny how the kiddos push you into being responsible, isn’t it? I’m so glad that we’ll be teaching them a better way. 🙂

  5. Great story, Kim!
    My parents taught me great lessons about money. They were and still are extremely frugal. However, I seemed to forget those lessons in my 20’s but I ultimately reverted back to the lifestyle that they taught me as I entered my 30’s. Thank goodness for that!

  6. So true, kid watch and learn, and sometimes they don’t even ask questions so you don’t think they have learned but they have. My parents were a bit dramatic with money, when my dad had no job it was weird because they rationed TP or nearly had a stroke when we left a bulb on but never took us out of private school or piano lessons, and we still went on holiday. It was confusing, but a clear case of conscious spending if the drama hadn’t been there.

    • I try my best to avoid the drama. My mom was pretty dramatic over most things, but not necessarily money. I tend to shut down when surrounded by dramatic people.

  7. “I care about being financially literate for my sanity and for the legacy I will leave through my daughter.” I could not agree more Kim! I really think it almost comes down as a moral issue for us and our children. The loving thing to do is to prepare them so they can make wise decisions, impact their future and not make the same idiotic decisions I did. Great post Kim!

  8. My parents taught me by example. They did not carry credit card debt. They considered purchases carefully and spent within their means. They saved for retirement at all stages. As a result, I learned a lot and hope to pass a lot of the same lessons to our kids.

  9. I care about financial literacy because there are too many people without a clue what they’re doing. Sadly, if we don’t get working on understanding the basics of sound money management, those of us who’ve saved are going to be supporting a hell of a lot of people who didn’t.

  10. I learned two very simple financial rules from my father. 1. If you don’t have the money for it, you can’t buy it (houses and cars are the rare exception). 2. Don’t put out more than you’re brining in. My very first budgets were simple. I got XXX for allowance, and I was not allowed to spend more than that. My father has also been an avid budgeter from way back, so my love for putting numbers on a spreadsheet comes from him. 🙂

    • Having an avid budgeter for a dad must make it second nature to be organized with your finances. I don’t think my parents tracked things that well. They just didn’t spend a whole lot and never used credit.

  11. Nice story Kim. My parents provided well for us, but now that I think about it, they didn’t really discuss their financial picture with us. I think if I would have learned about it when I was a teenager, I might have not gone down the same path. I have learned now, but I wish I could have that $50,000 back from the credit card companies.

    • I kind of feel the same way. My parents never had credit, so maybe they just assumed I never would either or that I’d be smart enough to avoid it. I guess the bar was set a bit high!

  12. It sucks when you become financially literate because “you have to,” which is how so many people become financially literate. If we spend more time on educating our young people, who may or may not learn it at home, then I think we’d be in better shape for your future. I mean they teach math, so why not basic personal finance skills!

    • Amen, Tonya! We take a lot of classes that have little impact on our day-to-day lives, but personal finance skills, which everyone single one of us needs, is no where to be seen. Hopefully those days will be coming to an end soon!

    • I’m not sure I would have paid much attention, but it does come back pretty easily if you’ve learned it as a kid.

  13. I think I learned a lot form my parents, but I was always interested in money. In fact I made a career out of it. I was a CFO of companies for most of my private industry career and then I went into business myself.

  14. I care because I want to be self sufficient and not have to rely on others ever. It’s 1 part pride, 2 parts paranoia, I think.

    • I think many people consider themselves to be self-sufficient, but don’t realize how heavily their independence depends on their credit cards, which really isn’t being self-sufficient at all. I’m glad there are people like you showing people what true self-sufficiency and independence looks like.

    • Pride and paranoia are pretty powerful emotions.

  15. Having my daughter made me get my financial act together, too! 🙂

  16. I became financially literate just before getting married. And now that we have a kid, I’m SUPER excited to teach him the ways 🙂

    Thanks for the reminder of how important it is, and how many still need to hear about how finances really work. An honorable mission to be on!

    • Teaching your kids about money is one of the best gifts you can give him. Parents have a lot of their plates and sometimes the effects of not teaching their kids about money isn’t immediately evident, but there are repercussions. You’ll be a great role model for your son!

    • I can see your son as a little super pumped up guy getting excited about money and financial stuff!

  17. I’m glad to hear you have both changed the way you think about money and have gone on to manage it. When I read this “we felt entitled to a certain lifestyle because we went to school for a long time” right away I could think of some people who are like that where I work. It doesn’t matter how much you earn it’s how you save and spend it and that is why personal finance is important to us. We don’t want to spend more than we have but rather would like to save for the pleasures that we desire in life. This is what makes us happy. Keep on going Kim, you are inspiring many!

  18. My parents made sure I opened a savings account and started saving (and later on donating) so I got into the habit. We weren’t deprived growing up :), but we also didn’t buy things we couldn’t afford!

    • We didn’t either, so I somehow lost that message, but my parents never talked about having a mortgage or how much things cost. I had no clue about most things when I first started out on my own.

  19. Thanks for participating and sharing your story, Kim. The legacy you leave behind – that’s something I think about frequently. And honestly, it was one of the things that motivated me to start The Heavy Purse. I felt I could make a difference and wanted to share my knowledge, knowing so many people needed help. And there is absolutely no reason to not become financial literate and hundreds of reasons why they should. Thank you for helping people along their journey to financial literacy.

  20. Kids are absolutely a sponge! My entire relationship with money is based off what my parents taught me and what I observed from their behaviors. I’m certainly going to be going back through and reading some of the posts you mention about getting out of debt. Thanks for sharing your story!

  21. My parents didn’t make a lot of money growing up, but they were able to teach me some great financial life lessons because of this. They did an awesome job telling me where they went wrong and where they went right. They always say that they don’t want us to go through the same financial hardships that they went through.

  22. My parents were always running out of money. I certainly didn’t learn any money skills there! Except for balancing a checkbook, because my mother’s dyslexia made it difficult for her to do it herself.

  23. I care because I don’t want to fear what would happen if we suddenly couldn’t make it. Financial independence is my main goal now.

  24. My parents never talked about money or taught me anything. Luckily I became interested at personal finance at a pretty young age so I never went into major debt. I will teach my kids about money though and hopefully prepare them to handle money when they become adults.

  25. It’s funny how kids have a way of changing our perspective on many things in life. It’s true we have a huge influence in their lives – more than we probably realize. I can already see how my kids are thinking through their money decisions based on things we have taught them. It’s an awesome thing to see.

  26. It definitely doesn’t take a PHD or anything to be successful with money. Heck, the math for personal finance we learned back in grade school, Income – Expenses > 0. The issue is that most people aren’t exposed to it, whether at home or at school. This is unfortunate, but even if it were required in school I don’t know how many people would truly apply it to their lives. Maybe it needs to be a requirement in college since hopefully they would be more mature at that age.

    I can’t wait to have kids and pass along all the great information there is. Although since I’m excited about I’ll have to make sure I don’t overwhelm them.

    • It’s a fine balance. I don’t want to be talking about money so much as to give my daughter a complex, but I do want her to know about everything related to finance: mortgages, interest, loans, etc. Maybe it won’t apply until down the road, but it will at least be familiar.

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