Financial Literacy
smart spending
Guide to Financial Literacy

Bankrate's hallmark Financial Literacy Series breaks down personal finances into manageable pieces for the consumer. This year we will explore four topics of importance to our readers during this period of economic turmoil: Focus on Careers, Families and Finance, How to Prosper and Retirement Income Planning. We label these "Growth opportunities," because all challenges present opportunities for growth.

Check out our latest series on How to Prosper, which focuses on creative ways to augment your income and other ways to enhance your life. Our series on Retirement Income Planning will help you get a handle on how to manage your investments during retirement. Or click around in our Families and Finance section if you have children or elderly parents that you care for. The Career series offers lots of great ideas for landing a good job (or keeping the one you have) in these recessionary times. In the sections called "Essentials" and "Action," learn more about budgeting, estate planning, credit cards, identity theft, investing, smart borrowing and tons of other stuff. Each link leads to a table of contents where you can choose to read the stories that interest you.

Growth opportunities »

  • How to prosper
    We’re fortunate to live in a country where individuals can aim high, reach their goals and realize their dreams.

  • Retirement income planning
    Don't leave retirement to chance. Take a deliberate approach to planning for the longest vacation of your life.

  • Families and finance
    With family you have to follow your heart. With money it's best to use your head. Combining the two is a challenge.

  • Focus on careers
    The future may be uncertain, but stay positive and open to changes that lead to new opportunities.

Action »

  • Out of the red, into the black
    Debt can be a distant friend or enemy, but savings is always a dear friend.

  • Protect your identity
    Your identity is sacrosanct. Don't let a fraudulent twin take over your life.

  • Securing a comfortable retirement
    Your retirement vessel can be a dinghy, yacht or ocean liner. What's your preference for a voyage?

  • Smart borrowing
    Loans can help you get ahead. But if not used judiciously, they can also help you fall behind.

  • Growing your bottom line
    Getting ahead involves pruning expenses and taxes as well as growing savings and investments, no matter how inclement the markets may be.

  • Credit savvy tips
    Three-quarters of Americans have at least one credit card. Exploit them to your advantage and enhance your life.

Essentials »

  • The simple art of budgeting
    Learning to live within your means creates opportunities for financial growth. Organize your income and expenses with a budget.

  • Mastering credit cards
    Americans revolve nearly $900 billion in debt, mostly credit cards. Virtually everyone can learn to use credit cards better.

  • Understanding mortgages
    Purchasing a home is the biggest investment most of us ever make. Choose your mortgage wisely.

  • Mapping a retirement plan
    Retirement saving strategies for people of all ages, incomes and lifestyles: Decide your goal, put a plan into action and enjoy the journey.

  • Dealing wisely with home equity
    As your home grows in value and your loan principal slowly shrinks, your home builds equity. Treat it with respect.

  • Credit scoring demystified
    Knowing the importance of your credit report and credit score.

  • Creating an emergency fund
    It's not a luxury vessel; it's the ballast that keeps your financial ship from capsizing. Learn how to keep your finances afloat.

  • Understanding insurance needs
    Insurance needs change with age and lifestyle. We help you discern the essentials from the superfluous.

  • Maximizing a college fund
    Nearly two-thirds of American high school students enroll in college, but paying for it is an issue for all. This chapter will offer some smart ways to fund your education.

  • Financial tuneup
    To a certain extent, you can set things up on autopilot. But occasionally you need to examine whether your investments and goals are on course.

  • Planning for your heirs
    Don't give your family more grief than they can handle. Make it a priority to organize your financial affairs.

  • Taxes made easy
    Some people would rather face the jaws of a mad beast than tackle a tax return. No worries. Bankrate helps you conquer taxes.

Art by Paul Zwolak / Marlena Agency.

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