Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Look Where for Financial Literacy Advice?

Given the debt crisis, it may seem like an odd choice but Time suggests the US could learn a lesson or two about financial literacy from Spain of all places.

Key point:
Why should Americans care what’s going on in Spain? The financial-education movement is a modern global phenomenon. No one knows for sure what works best and how to reach individuals with the information they need to make smart money decisions. Different nations are trying different approaches, and all of them can learn.

In Spain, they hope to reach all age groups but see getting to students with money basics as the long-term fix. In the U.S., students are on the radar for sure — but a rising emphasis is on helping adults by requiring simpler financial statements and products, providing closer regulatory oversight and creating online tools that will offer third-party advice at the point of sale.

Simpler products and timely impartial advice are fine. Let’s do it. But those are stopgap fixes. Empowering young adults to be confident about money — to be financially literate, just as they learn to read and write — is the right approach. Maybe we’ll learn something from a country at the center of the euro crisis.