FLM Day 5: Adam K. Levin on the importance of financial literacy

In honor of Financial Literacy Month, we created a microsite that offers 30 simple steps to financial wellness --one for each day of the month. To enrich the experience, we asked some amazing people to guest post during the month; their dedication to financial literacy is truly inspiring! Today, Adam K. Levin, co-founder and Chairman of Credit.com and former Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, discusses the importance of financial literacy.

For a nation presumably as literate as the United States, it is shocking how financially illiterate we truly are. I have no doubt that financial illiteracy played as much of a role in the current economic nightmare as greed, mismanagement and the quest to live the American dream. Therefore, as we emerge from the eye of our current economic storm, with perhaps a year before even the optimists believe we will reach a semblance of relief, let’s sincerely hope that one of the takeaways is that financial literacy becomes top of mind, as opposed to down the street, around the corner and under the bush. And the time to begin a serious effort is not when the economy turns, but rather now, so that we – as individuals – can make informed decisions along the way.

Until recently, financial literacy hasn’t been fashionable. Government never really promoted it. Schools certainly didn’t teach it. Most businesses never paid attention to it. Indeed, many acted as if it were either a distraction or a hindrance to their business models.

Financial literacy isn’t a generational thing either. It wasn’t something passed down from our parents to us, or even their parents to them, because few even understood the need for it.

As a former Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, I find it disturbing that we teach complex geometric proofs in high school but overlook basics such as how to balance a checkbook or open a bank account.

We can do something about it, but it will require a paradigm shift in our thinking.

Adam K. Levin is the co-founder and Chairman of Credit.com and Identity Theft 911.  From 1977 to 1982, he served as Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. In this position, he managed one of the toughest and most powerful consumer education, advocacy and enforcement agencies in the nation. He was personally responsible for the passage and/or promulgation of over 40 laws.

 

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.