Dear readers,

People in high places are emphasizing the importance of financial literacy to our country’s future.

In January, President George W. Bush signed an executive order establishing the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy.

“I have asked people from the business world, the faith world, the nonprofit world, to join this council in order to come up with recommendations as to how to better educate people from all walks of life about matters pertaining to their finances and their future,” Bush declared.

Notice that he links together finances and future. The two are tied together inextricably. How we manage our finances today is directly related to how well prepared we will be in the future.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is another high-ranking official who strongly advocates the need for financial literacy in this country. He spoke about it before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. He addressed the subject at the U.S. Chamber Education and Workforce Summit. Last year, he talked with zeal on the topic when addressing the juniors and seniors of Woodrow Wilson High School at the Greater Washington Jump$tart Coalition financial education event.

“It is essential that you know how to use — properly and responsibly — the many types of credit that will be at your disposal, such as credit cards,” he told these young people. “Because credit has become such an integral part of our economy, and because there are so many sources and forms of credit available, much more financial sophistication is required than when I attended high school. As a parent of two young adults myself, I believe that helping young people become financially literate is critical for their future economic well-being and should be a high priority for educators,” he said.

The publisher and editors at Bankrate also believe in the importance of financial literacy. Last year we launched our Financial Literacy package, tackling 12 consumer topics ranging from estate planning to mortgages to taxes in our quest to help consumers make savvy financial moves. This year we are again committed to the cause. Our first installment focuses on getting “Out of the red and into the black” — a colorful transition from a state of deficiency to one of prosperity, from debt to wealth.

We consider financial literacy an important part of our mission, and hope you peruse the pages of this installment to your fullest advantage.

Cheers,

Barbara Whelehan
Editor – Bankrate’s Guide to Financial Literacy