What it Means to be Financially Literate

When I was 8 years old I went to live with my aunt. She raised me from that time to… well still today she’s raising me in a lot of ways.

When I was about 9 she asked me to start writing the checks for our bills and balancing her checkbook. She was working hard at multiple jobs to earn the money to pay our bills (though I did have my own grass mowing side hustle at that time to pay for things I wanted that we couldn’t afford), but she wanted to help me understand the value of money; what it meant to have to pay for things, understand that we weren’t very financially secure (we lived below the “poverty line” at that time), and get some basic, but life relevant, math practice – and what do you know, balancing a checkbook is very close to understanding budget spreadsheet mechanics, right?

That was the seed for me becoming financially literate, and I was fortunate because most kids don’t get that type of experience. But I still have gaps.

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Even though I spend my days in budgeting spreadsheets getting sharp about cash flow, and despite learning the ropes of how to track my expenses and pay estimated taxes as a freelancer before my full-time transition to Tiller, I’m not an expert and there are some areas where I’m not financially savvy. 

I don’t come from a background in finance. Math was my worst subject (I still got an A 🤓). My background is in user experience design and art. I love understanding how people interact with the technology they use, and how to make it better and easier for them to use it.

My work at Tiller inspires me on this level because money is a tool, and I get to help design an experience that makes it easy to understand it in the most flexible and customizable way possible, a spreadsheet. Clarity about your financial life = peace of mind.

I know what it’s like to feel stressed about money so helping people reduce that stress gives me incredible satisfaction. 

It also helps me bridge my financial literacy gaps. I’ve only just started investing for retirement, and I have a lot to learn there. Our recent developments on holdings investment data throws me into that space more intimately, and more quickly than I might have intentionally chosen to do so. 

I have aspirations of buying property in Western North Carolina, but there are so many gaps in my knowledge about that process that I feel apprehensive and paralyzed by it sometimes. They say knowledge is power, and that may be true, but I believe awareness is the key. I’m aware and accepting that these gaps exist, and that’s the first step toward change. 

April is Financial Literacy Month” has been an event on one of our internal Tiller calendars since 2016. Every year when April 1st rolls around, I don’t think about fooling people, I think “How can I organize something to promote financial literacy this year?” This year, I’m finally doing it. 

Next week, on Thursday, April 22nd, I’ll be chatting with Chihee Kim, co-founder of Finny. Finny’s mission is to make learning about personal finance ubiquitous and easy. They take a fun approach to educating their users about money with the mission to create a barrier-free environment, where everybody, regardless of background, has an opportunity to become financially literate.

I’m excited to chat with Chihee to uncover some other gaps, help you explore your own, and learn about ways we can bridge them together. 

If you’d like to listen in or ask your own questions, register to save your spot

If you have questions you’d like for us to answer about Financial Literacy, send them my way in advance at heather@tillerhq.com 

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Heather Phillips
Heather comes from a background of user experience design & customer support. She loves helping others learn, explore and discover better ways to use applications and products that improve their lives. When she’s not coaching customers on Tiller best practices, tweeting or writing blogs, she’s probably at a yoga class, out for a hike in the Blue Ridge, or off volunteering for a variety of non-profits.

Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for randy randy says:

    Thanks for sharing this background, @heather. I had heard bits and pieces before but much of it was new to me.

    As you know, I’m cut from the same cloth in being more of a product design person than a financial expert. (I designed coffee machines :coffee: for over a decade before joining Tiller.) I enjoy the riddles of organizing data, analyzing it, and rendering it into something more valuable all in ways that are hopefully intuitive and enlightening.

    I’m grateful to learn about finances and fill in some knowledge gaps every day in this community.

    Looking forward to the webinar.

  2. Avatar for matt matt says:

    Thanks for sharing, @heather! I can’t make it to the webinar but I’m definitely interested, will it be recorded and available afterward?

  3. Yes @matt ! We’ll be recording the session and will post it in the Community here.

Continue the discussion at community.tillerhq.com

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