2013 Financial Literacy Forum Series Dispatch

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Last week something very important quietly happened in an outer neighborhood of Sao Paulo, Brazil. On the top floor of the British cultural center, a building that hosts both the local consulate and a local pub, the first panel in the 2013 Financial Literacy Forum Series met to discuss finance, education and the idea that we can improve an economy from the bottom up.

It deserves a lot more coverage than it's been getting.

As I've discussed before in these pages, financial literacy is an underrated topic. Although the language it uses is technocratic and obscure, with even the term itself seeming to belong in a graduate thesis, the issue is an important one. This is about how we spend our money, where it goes and why some people thrive while others can never figure out where it all goes.

Also see: Financial Literacy Summit Addresses Gaps in Understanding

In short, financial literacy is the study of the decisions we make every day, and if that doesn't grab your attention, think of it this way: our economy is nothing more than the sum of those parts, and we don't always do very well. After all, with 2008 quickly fading into the rearview mirror let's not forget that while the banks may have issued a lot of bad mortgages, we were the ones who took them. Better education about how to avoid these mistakes in the future will benefit everybody. This is the issue that the forum series begun in Sao Paulo will try to address, helping to lift economies by starting on the ground floor.

Over the course of 2013 the Financial Times and Visa will host forums in Brazil, Morocco, Nigeria and Myanmar. This series will discuss the unique challenges that each country faces, as well as how local governments and organizations can help people more actively access modern financial practices.