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GEPHARDT: How Financial Literacy Can Turn Savings Into Wealth

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – April is Financial Literacy Month and it came during an interesting time. For the first time in a long time, Americans have felt better about their finances. Financial experts tried to seize the moment so we do not slide back into our old spending habits.

A new survey from Experian found fewer Americans are worried about money. It showed 55% of folks were concerned about their personal finances compared to 69% who expressed concern this same time last year. 

As the KSL Investigators reported, millions of Americans have been in panic mode – saving everything they can since the start of the pandemic. That has allowed folks to build up a cushion. Now is not the time to blow it said actor and financial literacy advocate, Hill Harper.

“Financial literacy is critically important,” said Harper, who is writing a book about money education. The trouble, he said, is people get a little scratch but do not have the financial literacy to know how to take that scratch and turn it into real wealth.

“Folks can’t take action if they don’t know what to do,” Harper said.

For its part, Utah has led the way in teaching money management skills. In fact, the state made it mandatory.

“Utah requires that all high school students take a half‐year course exclusively dedicated to personal finance topics,” reads the program review of Utah’s financial literacy mandate by the state auditor’s office.  

Turns out, Utah was this country’s first state to enact such a law. Harper said most states do not have a similar mandate for financial literacy.

Savvy or otherwise, he said if more Americans take real control of their finances right now, they are much better prepared for financial comfort for decades to come.

“Talk about these things and getting people to hopefully think about them,” said Harper. “Go to places like Experian.com and learn about how to improve their credit score. Learning different tips and things that they (people) can do to actually take control over their finances is really important.”

The good news is there are lots of ways to educate yourself if you do not know where to start. Many programs will not cost you a dime. Here are a few in Utah that would be happy to share their knowledge on how you can build wealth out of the money you’ve managed to squirrel away this past year.

AAA Fair Credit Foundation – https://faircredit.org/services/

America Saves – https://www.americasaves.org/

National Foundation for Credit Counseling – https://www.nfcc.org/

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