As Canada celebrates an increase in financial literacy with Financial Literacy Month, the team at Jason Hartman is left thinking about what it means to even be literate. Studies indicate that, of those in the United States capable of reading, most read at an 8th grade level. It isn’t necessarily impressive given the level of communication required in most jobs, but it’s certainly better than nothing.
But low literacy rates have a more significant impact than you might think—they influence a variety of socioeconomic factors that often leave you or those around you struggling to make ends meet. Economists point out that those who do not possess the ability to read often struggle in other ways that cost the individual and the government more money. Illiterate citizens are more likely to rely on government services—unemployment, food assistance, and subsidized housing. They’re also more likely to find themselves in jail.
Literate people positively contribute to the economy by being a positive force of economic good—working jobs, investing in national and local economies, and spending money. But when we fail to educate individuals, we risk an increased number of those in the population in need of social services.
Additionally, those who are unable to read experience increased problems with their health. Because they’re often unable to identify or remember proper dosages of medication, they over or under-medicate. Caregivers and patients experience a dangerous communicative gap that leads to increased healthcare expenses down the road.
To combat this, many community organizations are offering adult education classes that seek to teach even basic reading skills to adults who may lack them. The ability to read will continue to remain important, and certainly works to establish a sound foundation for financial literacy—a logical next step for literate adults.
If you’re interested in helping in the fight against illiteracy in the United States, begin by contacting your local library. There may be opportunities for paid or volunteer work utilizing your skill set. This will build a resume, establish your presence as a positive force for change in your community, and give you some experience teaching. You’ll be able to clarify your own ideas about what it means to be literate—financial or otherwise.
Then, flex your muscles and take it a step further—offer to teach (and therefore increase your own knowledge of) financial literacy in your community! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/33063519/)
The Young Wealth Team