Learning about personal finance can be “informal”

“Across our lifespan, humans spend more than 80% of their 16 waking hours in “informal” learning environments outside “formal” classroom walls.”

(University of Washington College of Ed. publication Research That Matters, Volume 10)

So why are some of us stuck in our learning patterns about money?  Or School’s Out Forever?  Apparently we have ample hours after our “formal education” is over to pick up new material, concepts and even practical things like improving your financial infrastructure.

Have you ever heard a friend or colleague say things like the following:

  • Math and I don’t get along
  • My wife/husband takes care of that
  • The economy doesn’t affect me (yes, I heard that once)

My all time favorite is, “I don’t do live math”. (heard during a public radio pledge drive)

Perhaps some of this goes back to the way we all learned about math in school, whether we learned “good” or ‘bad” money lessons at home, or if our education has all come from ‘the school of bad experiences”. Granted, some of us had truly bad math instruction, and some of us just didn’t see the relevance to math, personal finance and economics at the time we first saw with the material. Some people learn about stocks at age 15, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t pick up new concepts at any age.

My reason for beginning my blog with this research is to give yourself permission to begin anew with your learning. You can also give yourself permission to approach your personal finances in a way that is different from “keeping up with the Joneses”, the way other members of your family learn, and the way you learned math from “Mrs./Mr. Smith” in high school. In other words, allow yourself to embrace new informal learning opportunities!

As you follow this blog, you will learn and even change your perceptions about personal finance for the better. I will help you understand that small, consistent, sustainable changes matter. You don’t have to hit a home run. You don’t need to have that ultimate, sexy cocktail party story about your fabulous investment that made you so rich. You do need to remember that “right-size” changes, are what are best for you.

When we learn new things, as youth or adults, remember this advice from UW Professor Walter Parker:

“We have to help [learners] develop the sense that, “If things are tough, it just means I am a novice, it doesn’t mean I don’t have the competency for this work.”

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