A little over a year ago, my Foolish colleague Jason Moser wrote a wonderful article pointing out how the U.S. needs to increase its financial literacy. Jason pointed out a few alarming facts about how a lot of young Americans never learn about basic personal finance in school; in fact, it's a required topic in only 14 states.
Around the same time, Fool analysts John Reeves and Ilan Moscovitz summed up an SEC-published report on the financial literacy of U.S. citizens in an article in which they highlighted 19 alarming stats. The one stat that stood out to me was -- and still is -- No. 19: "75% of Americans nearing retirement age in 2010 had less than $30,000 in their retirement accounts. Is this a result of people not knowing any better?"
No matter what age you are, if that figure doesn't scare you, I'm not sure what will. But that doesn't we have to sit back helplessly. We can all take part in making a difference, starting right now.
In 1993, Tom and David Gardner founded The Motley Fool with the goal of building the world's greatest investment community. Their purpose, then and now: "To help the world invest. Better." For those who don't know the Fool, that may sound like PR-driven corporate-speak. But as I can attest, along with lots of other Fools, this company lives and breathes that mission statement. Every day, we Fools cut through the Wall Street noise to inform the public about market news, which companies look attractive, and which ones are best avoided. We explain how to get started buying stocks, and we offer our motley opinions about where everything from the Dow Jones Industrial Average to shares of Apple are headed next. Sometimes those opinions turn out to be right, and sometimes they're wrong. But all of the articles, videos, blog posts, and newsletter services that make up The Motley Fool get people thinking, talking, and -- most importantly -- investing in their future.
Throughout my life I've had a number of teachers and mentors tell me that they do what they do because they love helping others. If you're reading this article, you obviously care about your personal financial situation and are probably actively working to improve it. You also probably know at least the basics of finance and investing. So why not share that knowledge with those who need it?
Instead of making the same old New Year's resolution to lose weight, consider making a new one that can reward yourself and others alike. Promise yourself that you'll find at least one person in 2014 to whom you'll teach some basic financial concepts. Maybe you'll teach this person why saving money for retirement is so important, and how to start. Maybe you'll help someone open a brokerage account and show that person how to make a trade, or how to read a balance sheet.
With the massive number of financially illiterate Americans living among us, it's crucial that we do all we can to make things better. As the old saying goes, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. in 2014, consider helping The Motley Fool build a better investing community. By helping others, we can help the world invest better.
Fool contributor Matt Thalman owns shares of Apple. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the big winners and losers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter: @mthalman5513.
The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.