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Financial Literacy 101

“The more you practice healthy financial habits, the easier it will become over time. Set a plan and then execute it.” By Maggie Charles

If you ask an adult one thing they wish they were taught in school, they would probably respond with financial literacy. Unfortunately, financial literacy isn’t a subject taught in most schools, but it should be. Being smart with your money early on puts you in charge of your life choices by avoiding the stress of poor money management. Let’s face it, after God, money makes the world spin round. 

Wants Vs. Needs

When it comes to financial literacy, understanding the difference between wants versus needs will help you navigate tough money decisions. The lines can get blurry so start by sticking with the basics. Financial needs, such as food, shelter and transportation, are essential for survival—basic needs. Wants are things you buy for leisure and fun, such as concert tickets, the latest sneakers or a gaming system. Wants and needs can be different for everyone depending on the situation. Some needs can be wants and vice-versa; one easy way to differentiate the two is to keep your goals at the forefront of your mind. Here are four ways to become wiser and more focused on your financial decisions. 

Money Mindset

Having a renewed mind will set you up for success regarding your money. A positive money mindset is imperative. Many goals are within reach, but you must know your limits. My motto is, “A sacrifice today is an investment tomorrow.” What are you willing to live without now so you can enjoy more extensive and better things later? Of course, a little delayed gratification won’t hurt you. According to Britannica, delayed gratification is “the act of resisting an impulse to take an immediately available reward in the hope of obtaining a more-valued reward in the future.” In a more practical sense, #selfcontrol. 


Once you have adopted a growth mindset toward your finances, you can start by creating a monthly budget. Creating a budget will help you reach your goals faster because you know exactly where every penny goes. A budget lets you see exactly where all your money is going and in what areas you are overspending. Start this process by first writing down your income, i.e., how much money you have coming in. Second, calculate the amount you spend on bills such as cellphone, car insurance and rent. Once you have the total, this is the baseline for your expenses. Third, subtract the expenses from the total number of your income.

Three easy steps: Income – Expenses = Savings. You work hard for your money, so know exactly where it is going. The more you practice healthy financial habits, the easier it will become over time. Set a plan and then execute it.

Saving Money

Setting a realistic goal is a great way to keep you motivated while saving money. Whether saving for a car or buying your first home, visualize your savings and create a timeline with target dates to keep it simple. For example, you can save $500 in five months by saving $50 bi-weekly. Setting mini-goals will help you build confidence to stay focused. 

During your financial journey, the sun is going to shine only sometimes. Putting money away for a rainy day can help you plan for unexpected expenses, such as your car repairs. Saving 10 to 20 percent every time you get paid in a high-yield savings account can serve as an umbrella for when life rains on your parade. “Who would you rather be, the wise man who saves for the future or the fool who spends whatever he gets?” (Proverbs 21:20). No amount is too small; start intentionally saving now.


Accumulating bad debt will totally ruin your financial goals. Spending money you don’t have to purchase on credit isn’t a good idea, no matter how much free stuff the credit card company offers you. Avoid credit card debt like the plague by living below your means and minding your own business. Focusing on your goals and creating new ones is one way to avoid FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). 

Having a credit card gives you the convenience of not using cash. As a result, many people spend more money because it’s easy to lose track of spending. That’s another reasonwhy having a budget is essential. Paying for purchases with cash will help keep you financially responsible. To clarify, having a credit card has advantages if a person knows how to utilize it correctly.  

When it comes to financial literacy, the application of knowledge is power, and the sooner you start, the better. Do your research; reading books, blogs, social media and listening to podcasts are great learning tools that are right at your fingertips. Taking advantage of these multiple resources will not only give you a head start but also set you up for financial success. 

For further reflection

  • Clever Girl Finance: resource offers free courses on their website. 

Simple Budget Tips

Choose which budget plan that will work best for you.

  • 80/20 Rule: Put 20 percent of your income in savings and use 80 percent to pay for expenses.
  • 50/30/20 Rule: 50 percent on necessities, 30 percent on wants and 20 percent on savings. Start by keeping it simple.  

Apps like Mint and Personal Capital can help you keep track of your spending and budget digitally.

Side Hustles

Whether you are a high school or college student, there is a lot of opportunity to make money. Start with thinking about your passions and talents. You can braid hair, walk dogs or even start a small business. Think of a problem that needs to be solved and solve it. 


Maggie Charles is passionate about helping people reach their financial goals and beyond. Her mission is to empower people to understand how to save money, eliminate debt and build wealth. When she isn’t teaching, she is spending time with her loving husband Adely and their two boys, Christian and Josiah.

This article was originally titled “Where It Goes…” in the January 2023 issue of Peer.

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