Let’s use the crypto craze as a springboard into better financial literacy.
By Brad Hearn, president of Retail Advice and Solutions.
From Superbowl advertisements to big city mayors taking payment in crypto, it’s become impossible to ignore the rise of cryptocurrencies, the digital assets hailed by some as the future of finance. One in five Americans has traded in, invested in, or used cryptocurrency, according to a recent NBC News poll.
Cryptocurrencies, the decentralized financial assets built on the block chain, are generating excitement and activity with new investors, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z. It’s also helped shine a much-needed spotlight on finance for the general public.
The fact is, improving your financial literacy can have benefits beyond your pocketbook: Harvard researchers have found that increased financial literacy contributes to better mental and physical health and is associated with a lower risk of depression. If you’d like to improve your financial literacy, here are three important lessons to keep in mind:
Don’t let market volatility stress you out
Between rising inflation and interest rates and ongoing uncertainty around the war in Ukraine, financial markets have been on a roller coaster ride for the last few months. When your portfolio loses value quickly, it can be tempting to bail out of markets entirely. But don’t panic – carefully consider all available options, including staying diversified and not making major changes to your portfolio, especially for long-term investors.
Timing the market – knowing exactly when to get in and out to minimize losses and maximize potential gains – is nearly impossible, even for professional investors. During the ups and downs, it is key to remember that when you’re in it for the long haul, the day-to-day balances should not be a central focus.
Market volatility is a normal part of investing and should not prompt panic or sudden changes in your investments if you take a long-term approach.
Count on Your Community
Building your financial literacy can feel overwhelming, if you don’t have a background in money topics – even if dogecoin memes abound. But you may have access to resources that can help you get started. Programs in your local community can serve as a critical (and often overlooked) financial lifeline to individuals anxious about money and the future. You may find that you have more resources available to you than you realize.
Research what’s taking place in your town or city when it comes to financial education training or courses, especially at a local college or nonprofit organization. There are also resources like Financial Health Network that can help you on your financial literacy journey. Or, you can turn to your financial advisor or workplace benefits provider for additional content or materials that can help you improve your financial education.
Conversation Starters – Talk About Money
While many of us have grown up learning that it’s taboo or impolite to talk about money, keeping quiet about your financial concerns or questions may have a negative impact. While it can feel awkward to talk about money at first, it gets easier over time.
It’s particularly important to be transparent and open with your partner about money, which can prevent financial conflict in the future. If you have children, make sure to include them in discussions about finances as well, because open conversations about finances can help them develop a healthy relationship with money as they grow older.
Outside of your personal financial education, seeking the advice and resources from online, virtual or in-person financial professionals, can help reaffirm your learnings and be a critical tool in starting, refreshing or maintaining your financial security.
While cryptocurrency may have sparked your interest in financial literacy, learning about the broader financial markets is a smart move. Once you have a better understanding of how money works, you can start putting actions and behaviors in place to improve or protect your financial situation.
This article originally appeared in Kiplinger's.