Sonya Sellmeyer

By Sonya Sellmeyer, Consumer Advocacy Officer for the Iowa Insurance Division

Financial literacy is being able to understand personal money management skills such as budgeting, investments, credit, and debt.  A 2018 study from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) shows 62% of Iowans are unable to answer more than three of five financial literacy questions correctly. Financial illiteracy may lead to poor credit, high levels of debt, a lack of insurance, and a deficiency of retirement savings.

Financial literacy can put money worries to rest but only when we use the knowledge to work for a healthier state of being or what is referenced as financial wellness.  Meeting current and ongoing financial obligations, feeling secure in your future, and being capable of making choices that allow us to enjoy life now and in the future is financial wellness.  Getting your financial wellness to a secure state of well being is good for your overall health too. 

Examples of financial wellness are:

  • Making a budget and sticking to it
  • Having an emergency fund
  • Opening a saving account and making regular automatic contributions
  • Establishing a college savings account for your child and contributing
  • Managing your debt
  • Purchasing adequate insurance
  • Knowing your credit score and how it affects you
  • Contributing to an employer-sponsored retirement plan and taking advantage of employer matching
  • Opening your own IRA or ROTH IRA 
  • Consulting a professional when necessary

Financial wellness blooms when we put our financial literacy to work. As with any change in habit you have to start somewhere. Commit to becoming financially well.  Start your journey with a financial plan by educating yourself and setting goals. Performance experts recommend using S.M.A.R.T goals which are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based or trackable.  

Financial wellness is also a current concern among employers. A recent study shows 46% of all employees stress about their finances for at least 3 hours a week at work.  Many employers are offering financial wellness programs free of charge to their staff. Inquire if your employer offers any financial wellness programs, or suggest they do.  The Iowa Insurance Division is now offering free financial wellness courses to all state employees and retirees through September. Or use the Iowa Insurance Division’s free and unbiased Save4Later website to learn about a wide range of topics such as budgeting, investing, insurance, and saving for retirement.  

Learn the financial skills you need to be financially well and improve your overall state of healthy wellbeing.