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Enhance your personal financial literacy

The global economy has its highs and lows – to reduce your vulnerability during times of global economic difficulty, it's important for every individual to take responsibility for their personal finances, and ensure they are not overextended.

While there is no shortage of financial information available, the challenge is putting it to use. Most people concede that they should have a financial plan, but spend more time planning their annual vacation then they do their retirement. In order to change the way people think about their finances, an increase in knowledge and understanding is required.

Here are some ways to improve your own financial literacy:

Choose a trusted source

Establishing a relationship with an advisor you can trust is critical to achieving your goals. Unfortunately, finding and evaluating a financial advisor can be a daunting task. When choosing your advisor you should look for someone with a strong combination of expertise and experience.

One way to assess the level of an advisor's expertise is by their credentials. Although there are numerous designations, the highly regarded Certified Financial Planner (CFP) accreditation requires a minimum of three years of financial planning experience, a comprehensive curriculum, as well as ongoing education.

Just as important as education is experience. How long has the advisor been in the business? Have they worked with people like you? Can they provide references? You'll want to know that they have extensive real-work experience in addition to any theoretical training.

Finally, you'll want an advisor who takes time to get to know you and learn about your circumstances. Look for someone who connects with you on a personal level and can explain things in a way you can easily understand. Establishing a relationship built on trust can give you peace of mind and confidence your advisor has your best interests at heart.

Lifelong learning

Recognize that financial literacy is a lifelong process – not a quick fix. Research shows that those who take a single course in money management, finance, or economics perform no better when tested for financial literacy. You can't retain or apply much in the way of knowledge or skills based on one learning opportunity. The acquisition of effective and relevant knowledge, skills, and attitudes takes time and a long-term commitment.

In life you encounter certain milestones such as graduation, marriage, buying a new home or retirement, and potential roadblocks such as major illness or job loss. Use these key events as learning opportunities. Do your own research and learn about the financial impact and strategies for successfully managing that particular life stage or event. Then consult your financial advisor to establish or review your financial plan to reflect your needs at each of these key events and to prepare yourself for the unexpected.

If you want to stay up to date on the latest financial trends, there are a number of useful online financial resources to choose from. Consider book-marking your favorite financial or business websites and reviewing them periodically for news and updates. Subscribe to a newsfeed or e-newsletter from a reputable financial source to keep abreast of trends or developments. Explore some relevant financial blogs for real-time consumer feedback or utilize many of the online financial calculators to assist with your personal budgeting and planning.

BlueShore Financial provides a number of helpful resources on this website including investment calculators, mortgage selectors, and a series of advice videos. By doing your homework you'll increase your financial IQ over time.

Start young

As with most life skills, starting young greatly improves the chances for long-term success. This certainly holds true for financial literacy.

BlueShore Financial offers an innovative program called Wishbank that is designed to introduce basic money management concepts to children in their primary school years.

The Wishbank is a piggy bank with three sections – save, spend, share – that help teach children how to allocate money to achieve their goals, share with others and build their dreams. It provides a foundation for lifelong learning of healthy money management habits and community giving.

No matter what stage of life you're at, increasing your financial knowledge leads to confidence and a willingness to ask key questions before making important decisions. Consulting a professional financial advisor can also help you make sense of your situation by exploring your options and helping you determine the best strategy to meet your needs.

Contact BlueShore Financial to meet with one of our financial advisors today.

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This article is provided as a general source of information and should not be considered personal financial or investment advice or solicitation. The information contained in this article was obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, we cannot guarantee that it is accurate or complete.
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