By Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee
April is Financial Literacy Month – a time dedicated to creating awareness about the importance of wise money management. The unusual circumstances of the past year exposed financial vulnerabilities to an extent that have not been seen in decades.
According to a 2021 analysis, four out of ten American families lack financial resilience and are unable to weather a crisis, making them especially susceptible when a financial crisis occurs. Those who endured financial hardship are seeking to get back into the job market, build savings, and pay off debt. This year, Financial Literacy Month has taken on a whole new meaning.
While financial literacy cannot predict, avert, or fix a crisis, it can play a critical role in the recovery and stability of Arizona and its diverse communities. The overall health of our economy depends on the financial decisions of our individual citizens.
As State Treasurer, one of my main priorities is promoting financial literacy for all Arizonans. Last year, my office spearheaded Senate Bill 1292, now state law, to promote and raise awareness of financial literacy to Arizona residents as an official responsibility of the State Treasurer’s Office, highlighting the importance of this statewide issue.
During this Financial Literacy Month, I launched the Financial Education Portal on the Arizona Treasurer’s Office website. I invite Arizonans to explore these helpful resources and tools available through this Portal to grow a deeper understanding about personal finance and the value of saving. Making smart, informed financial and economic decisions will position Arizonans to achieve financial freedom and success. For more information or to access the Financial Education Portal, please visit: https://www.aztreasury.gov/financial-education.
My administration also advanced Senate Bill 1184 requiring students to have a semester of financial education before graduating from high school. I’m also proud of my office’s partnership with the Department of Economic Security to help vulnerable families on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and state subsidies, be able to attain self-sufficiency by providing them financial education as a work requirement.
I appointed the first-ever statewide Financial Literacy Task Force made up of experts and members from across Arizona which has been hard at work to find ways to provide financial education resources to students, senior citizens, military families, veterans, and vulnerable families. Financial education is a critical life skill that provides a solid foundation for success to individuals from all walks of life.
A lesson learned because of the pandemic was the importance of having savings, where money is already set aside to use during unforeseen emergencies. Emergency savings are critical when the unexpected occurs, as it unfortunately did in 2020. It’s recommended to save at least three months’ worth of expenses for these funds. Even putting small dollar amounts away every couple of weeks can get one started towards this goal.
In honor of Financial Literacy Month, I encourage everyone to examine their personal financial resiliency. How can we better manage our money? What short and long-term savings goals do we need to set? Are we financially prepared for future, unexpected emergencies like the one we just experienced? Financial literacy strengthens not only individuals and families but also the overall economic health of our communities.