Here’s how financial literacy can help you, say business moguls

April is Financial Literacy Month and CNBC is featuring advice from our contributors and frequent guests. Here’s how they think about financial literacy and its impact on their lives and future generations of American consumers, savers and investors.

Many Americans lack the financial literacy skills necessary to be successful.

More than half of Americans can’t cover a $1,000 emergency expense with savings, a January survey from Bankrate found. Meanwhile, about 20% of employees run out of money before their next paycheck, according to Salary Finance. That’s up from 15% last year.

CNBC contributor Karen Firestone says that is why financial literacy is the great equalizer, “It allows people to be independent gives people a playing field upon which they can achieve on their own relative to anyone else in the country because they understand how to deal with their money, the importance of saving income, cash flow and debt. And if you don’t have that you create a class of people that do understand and those that do not. And that is not what democracies are about.”

It’s hard to plan for the future, but that is why NFL linebacker and Financial Wellness Council member Brandon Copeland wants you to invest for an older version of yourself today.

Retirement may be far away and spending money on something you can have today instead of in 20 to 40 years might seem worth it, but Copeland thinks differently. “A lot of times people talk about saving money and retirement investing and it gets kind of weird, because hey, I’d rather spend the money today,” he said. “However, I want you to think about investing for an older version of yourself. I think about it today I stash away money for an older, fatter, grayer version of me. Ain’t nothing better than that. So, let’s change our perspective and change our mindset when it comes to investing in an older version of you because who else is going to invest in you better?”

For CNBC contributor Tim Seymour, one of the most important things he can do for his child is preparing her for the future – and that includes being financially literate.

Seymour told CNBC, “As a parent and an investor teaching her how to plan for her financial future and set goals, it’s about instilling a value set and it’s about helping her become independent and charting her own path in the world.”

Seymour isn’t alone – in a recent CNBC + Acorns Invest in You survey conducted by Momentive, 83% of U.S. adults said parents are the most responsible for educating their children about personal finance.

For CNBC contributor Gina Sanchez, learning about money was a part of growing up,

“I learned about money because I grew up poor with a single mother in South Texas. And every time we went out to a restaurant or made any purchase, my mother would take out a napkin and do the budget for the month to determine if we could make that a purchase. And that’s how I naturally began budgeting from the time I was 10.”

Today Sanchez is the CEO of Chantico Global and Chief Market Strategist for Lido Advisors. She also serves as a Trustee of the Los Angeles County Employee Retirement Association.

Inflation is at its highest rate since the 1980s and many Americans are feeling the pinch on their pocketbooks. Contributor Anthony Scaramucci says that being financially literate can help people navigate inflation pain,

“Ultimately, when you think about the concept of inflation, it eats away at a person’s ability to spend and to save. And this is a concept that we need to teach very early. Because of course, if you’re financially literate, you can work on ways and strategies to protect yourself from inflation.”

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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.