How to Be Smart with Your Money

April 10, 2013

 

Jessica Jennrich

Jessica Jennrich

Happy Financial Literacy Month! Wait, you didn’t know April is National Financial Literacy Month? Well, neither did we until recently, which is why we’re telling everyone — but especially women — to take time to learn more about finances, budgeting, and managing money.

It might not enjoy the same level of recognition as Black History Month or Women’s History Month, but this month’s theme tackles issues of tremendous importance like financial independence and self-awareness. Lots of organizations are featuring resources on topics ranging from estate planning to avoiding budgeting pitfalls.

We talked with AAUW Community Action Project Grant recipient Jessica Jennrich to find out more about why financial literacy matters. Jennrich is the director of the Center for Gender and Student Engagement at Dartmouth College and led the 2008 project Creating Effective Financial Planning Services for Low-Income Women in Transition while working at the University of Missouri. The project team conducted in-depth interviews with low-income women living in transitional facilities and created financial planning and financial literacy services to meet the women’s needs. According to Jennrich, “Typical financial planning programs assume that participants have a basic literacy of financial workings. With this program we truly began at the beginning, teaching women (many of whom were living alone for the first time in their adult lives) to balance their bank accounts, make a budget, and begin thinking about saving for the future.”

Q: Why is it important for women and girls to learn about financial literacy?

A: Women are specifically under-informed about financial literacy. From an early age, women do not receive the same access to financial planning information that men do. Even going back as early as childhood, often financial information on saving and investing is discussed between fathers and sons, but the same cannot be said of mothers and daughters. This makes it very important for women and girls to begin learning the basics of financial literacy in order to dismantle the confusion around, put simply, money.

Q: What should women know about managing their money?

A: Understanding the different opportunities for saving for the future is so important. This information can be confusing, and needs to be demystified. Additionally, women and girls need to gain confidence in discussing financial literacy openly and without stigma. Finally, women and girls need to feel empowered around having control of their finances, regardless of their employment status. Every woman, from CEOs to stay-at-home mothers, needs to have a transparent understanding of her present and future financial options.

Q: April is National Financial Literacy Month. Any last words of wisdom on the topic?

A: We could all be doing better, and I hope that National Financial Literacy Month will inspire all of us to act as mentors to the girls we know so they can make important change for the future.

National Financial Literacy Month is an excellent opportunity, and a reminder that regardless of your financial background or money savvy, it is never too late to learn more. Look for local events in your community, or check out any of the online educational tools, resources, tips, and trainings out there. Or consider taking the time to share your own knowledge and experiences with students, children, and mentees so that the next generation of women is prepared to take control of their finances.

Jessica Jennrich’s Community Action Grant was sponsored by six Research & Project Grant endowments: the Ballwin-Chesterfield (MO) Branch, the Independence (MO) Branch, the Reno (NV) Branch, the Dora Johnson/Kansas City (MO) Branch, the Missouri Diamond Jubilee, and the Missouri State Division Anniversary endowment.

This post was written by Fellowships and Grants Intern Emily McGranachan.

By:   |   April 10, 2013

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