04.21.14 It’s Financial Literacy Month. How are YOUR finances? Did you know that April is “Financial Literacy Month?” While we like to think that we have a handle on our finances, the sad truth is that many Americans do not.By definition, financial literacy is the ability to understand the role of money in the world. It includes your ability to make and manage money—how you invest it, donate it and more.So, let’s take a look at how you can start improving your financial literacy today! Budgets are your friends. Do you have a household budget and are you sticking to it? Living beyond your means can hurt your credit score and add to your stress. Start by figuring out what your monthly income is and list all of your expenditures (don’t forget the little incidentals that can really add up). Try sticking to your budget for six months and it could become a regular part of your routine. Make sure you “pay yourself first.” That means you need to budget for savings. Even if it is only $20 each pay cycle, make sure you are putting something into a separate savings pool. If your company offers a retirement savings plan, like a 401k, make sure you participate. Check your credit score. Having good credit will not only allow you to borrow for big-ticket items including home mortgages and car loans, but it will also determine your monthly finance charges on credit cards and other loans. In other words, the better your credit, the lower your interest rates. So check it periodically. Plan for tax time. Understand how to maximize your deductions and credits to let you keep more of the money you earn. But keep in mind tax laws change every year and it’s hard to keep up—so a professional to help you file your return is a wise investment. The Tax Pros at Jackson Hewitt® understand the ins and outs of tax law and will help you get every deduction and credit you deserve and the biggest refund possible. These are just a few things you can do to get a better grasp of your finances and improve your financial literacy. By taking these steps now, you’ll start building better habits, better credit and a better future.