Financial Literacy: The Beginner’s Guide

When I first started this blog, I had no idea what I was doing. Nor did I ever think I’d be teaching other women about financial literacy. I was bored, stuck in quarantine, lonely, and simply needed an outlet. At the time, everything I did revolved around my toddler. We had just realized going back to work would be impossible for me with everything going on. That meant, there was no need for her to be gone all day at preschool. Not to mention, the idea of preschool sounded terrifying due to the uncertainty of what was happening.

So, I created an account and started writing. At the time, the only thing I felt like I could talk about was the at home preschool activities I was doing with her. And I got a ton of traction with that on Instagram! But then the mom guilt sank in and it started to feel wrong. The idea of shoving a camera in her face while she’s trying to learn no longer held appeal to me. We still do our activities, don’t get me wrong. Now, I just don’t post about it as much. And that’s not to say I’ll never post another activity we do again. I just don’t want to stress my little one out over it. But what did that mean for my blog?

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Well...

Then, something changed. And I don’t mean right away, either. There was no light bulb moment or ah-ha feeling. In fact, I didn’t even realize it was happening. But I had been having a lot of stimulating discussions behind the scenes with other women. It almost felt like I was doing something bad by talking about these things, but I absolutely loved it! For the first time in my life, I had a passion for something that was completely my own. Sure, I had been passionate about my daughter and my husband, but that solely revolved around them. I had never truly focused on myself before.

So I began transitioning to writing about that. Unintentionally and subconsciously leaning in that direction, actually. But those posts took off. Other people, other moms and women, wanted to talk about these things, too! Something that I had been told my entire life was rude or inappropriate to discuss, was something that I was incredibly passionate about. And as it turns out, other women were, as well. It truly helped to open a dialogue that I had been dying to have for years. Even more surprisingly, people listened to me. They valued my opinion on something almost as much as I valued theirs.

beginner's guide to financial literacy

But...

Even with the amount of pure joy I felt over finding my passion… Even though I had started creating this community that was my own… Of course the insecurities began. I was terrified. My whole life, I was told, “you’re not supposed to talk about this.” “Don’t ask questions about that.” “Don’t be rude.” “Don’t be nosy.” So what if I announced that this was my passion and was ultimately shunned? What if everyone else in the world hated it? Hated me?

Consequently, the other fear that I wouldn’t be good enough sank in, too. Or the thought that other women in this community would think I copied them. That I stole their ideas. Furthermore, what if everything had already been discussed and I had nothing new to offer? What if I didn’t know enough about it? Not to mention, what if people thought my opinions were wrong or dumb? There was an endless list of uncertainty that kept spinning in my head. But I knew this was what I loved. So I just started writing.

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Now...

Thankfully, now that I’ve started to dive into this, those thoughts are completely gone! Do I think that this blog is for everyone? Not really. Do I think that I’m an expert? No. But those thoughts no longer bother me. I’m too excited about my blog. And too motivated by this amazing community to stop.

I only wish I had been more confident in myself in the beginning. Additionally, I wish I had truly started this off right. Maybe even gave a formal introduction post or explained my transition. But I was too nervous at the time. I do think an intro was necessary, though. This could help others that may have no idea what I’m talking about. In addition to giving others some background information. Maybe even help them better understand. And hopefully inspire them to join this discussion. So I’m doing it now. Better late then never I guess!

Let's Talk Money: Financial Literacy

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Hi, my name is Sierra Rae Koon and I love personal finance. There, I said it. This is my truth and I’m putting it out there. Maybe you think it’s weird. Maybe you have no idea what that means exactly. Similarly, maybe you’ve sort of heard of it, but don’t quite understand. Or, maybe you simply don’t care. That’s fine!

If you do care to learn about personal finance, but maybe you don’t know where to start, I’m here to help! I know it can be super overwhelming at first. Trust me, I studied this stuff in college. But it could literally change your entire life. No kidding.

I think the most important thing to know before delving into a personal finance journey is to learn the basics. It’s hard to research something as complex as finances if you don’t know the basis of it. But once you get that down, the rest of it will begin to fall into place!

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Let's Jump in to the Meaning of Financial Literacy!

I’ve already thrown two terms out there, so let’s define them before we really dive in.

  • Personal Finance. This is pretty self explanatory. It involves the act of managing your personal finances. Those finances would include saving money, making money, budgeting, spending money, and investing. To be technical, this involves banking, insurance, taxes, loans, retirement, and your estate.
  • Financial Literacy. This is the understanding of personal finance and everything it involves. That way, you can make informed financial decisions to benefit you and your family.

Okay, But What Does Financial Literacy Really Mean?

First, I want to take a step back and talk about some elementary terms. Because many get so caught up in the idea of building wealth and finding financial freedom that they forget a few key things. These things are the core of financial literacy so you need to master them!

  • Behavior. Yes, you read that correctly. Your behavior, or how you act, directly affects your finances. It dictates how much you earn, how much you spend, and how much you save. All key elements to managing your money.
  • Discipline. This is the practice of controlling your behaviors. If you can do that, you can succeed at anything. Especially financial literacy.
katie harp

Well, How Do I Do That?

To learn discipline and begin changing your behaviors, you have to take a step back. Write down everything you earn, spend, and save for a month. Then go through it line by line. Consider what you went through each day as well. Why did you skip work? What made you shop online? Why did you get take out? What motivated you to do each thing you did? Is it something you can change? How?

There are two terms that can really help you decide if you can change those behaviors.

  • Wants. A want is something you desire. Like those Gucci shoes you keep seeing on TikTok and Instagram.
  • Needs. A need, on the other hand, is something that is essential to your life. And no I don’t mean Starbucks. Think housing, transportation, food, water.¬†

Really dive into these two things. I want you to deeply consider the differences between want and need. Did you need to order DoorDash or did you simply want to? Do you actually need new jeans or do you just want them? I don’t care if you had a coupon or if there was a sale. Did you absolutely¬†need it?

Making this simple change in your outlook could seriously improve your financial situation. I would even recommend trying a no spend challenge if you’re struggling with this concept!

Let's Get Technical Within Financial Literacy

Now, let’s look at some of the more daunting terms. Don’t worry. We’re going to break each one down, so you can gain confidence in your financial literacy.

  • Budgeting. I know a lot of people think budgeting is too restricting. But I think living life paycheck to paycheck is too restricting. To budget, you need to look at how your money flows. Write down how much comes in vs how much goes out. Then set goals to widen that gap. It helps to put your expenditures in categories. For example, groceries, eating out, shopping, entertainment, and so on. Find the one you spend the most on and then research how to decrease that number. I use apps like Ibotta to help save money on groceries and shopping!
  • Saving. Now that you’ve figured out your budget, you need to start saving. To do this, you must set a goal and create a plan to reach it. Let’s say now you have $100 leftover at the end of each week after you subtract your budgetary expenses. Do you want to spend that whole $100 on Amazon or do you want to put half in a savings account? If you put just $50 per week into a saving account, after one year, you would have $2,600. Not to mention, the interest you could earn.
  • Debt. AKA, the devil. Many will tell you to use the snowball method, which is totally fine. To do this, just list all of your debts from smallest to largest. Then, pay them off in that order. The reasoning behind this is that you’ll potentially have quicker small victories by paying off your small debts first. This will then motivate you to keep going. I personally am a fan of the avalanche method. To do this, list your debts from the highest interest rate to the lowest interest rate. It makes more sense to me if I pay off the one that’s going to get increasingly larger each month before paying off the one that won’t. That way, you’ll ultimately pay less interest over time.
  • Investing. I think many people look at investing as a risk. And it is. But the as the saying goes, “the greater the risk, the greater the reward.” I’m not saying to gamble away all of your savings on random oppurtunities. But find an investment opportunity you’re actually interested in and research it before you start. Do you like real estate? Consider buying, flipping, and then selling. Maybe consider renting. Or even look into REITs. There’s also the option of the stock market. You could invest in growth stocks, value stocks, or dividend stocks. Or you could invest in ETFs. That way, you don’t have to pick each individual stock. If you’re patient and want a low-risk opportunity, then consider fixed income investments. There are tons of oppurtnities out there, you just need to look for them!
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kelly sikkema

That covers the basics any personal finance beginner needs to know to gain financial literacy. If you have any other questions or tips, make sure you comment below! We’d love to hear from you!

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6 thoughts on “Financial Literacy: The Beginner’s Guide”

  1. This is so inspiring! I love personal finance. Most of my friends or even family are not open in discussing this topic. Luckily, my partner is very open and happy to talk about it with me. I hope you inspire more people to work on their financial literacy as well.

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