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Ask the Expert

April is Financial Literacy Month. What’s a financial lesson you or someone you know learned firsthand?

As appeared in the Cleveland Fed Digest's Ask the Expert

April reminds me of the money lessons I’ve learned throughout my life. My grandfather paid for everything with cash. He always said, “Think about it; save for it; pay for it; owe no one.” My mother wrote checks and paid the bills on the same day each month. She kept her money in a neighborhood bank that we visited often (do they still have those red lollipops?). She balanced a budget that she managed to stretch far enough to take care of our large family. She saved some. She spent some. She gave some away. My husband and I? We pay bills online. My now-adult children never go into a bank. Their phones are their tools for everything—including ignoring my calls. We save for what we want. We spend within our means—usually. We share what we have—always.

Financial services tools and technologies change over time, so I think it’s important to focus on things like math, critical thinking, and learning throughout your lifetime. These skills and the lessons we pick up along the way empower our financial futures even as our world changes. The more access and opportunity we have to learn and understand money—or anything else—the better equipped we will be to make our own best choices.

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