The importance of economic literacy in difficult times

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Syarifudin Yunus Literacy and Public Relations Activist Association of DPLK

IO – Of course, the current economic conditions are generally felt as difficult. This cannot be denied. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani also firmly stated that the current economic conditions are severe. The global economy is weakening. Even international trade indicators show the weakest figure in 20 years. 

The impact is that Indonesia’s national economy has also weakened. Circulation of goods and services and capital flows continue to be depressed. The trade balance performance has also been sluggish, for both exports and imports. 

Then, what does that mean? Of course, it is the affairs of the state and the government to find the best solution. However, this condition can also be momentum for people to reflect on themselves about “economic literacy”. If the economy is in a difficult condition, is there awareness in the community to change its economic behavior? 

So that’s where the importance of economic literacy is. A literacy culture to prioritize “awareness” to understand the conditions, awareness of learning about everything in life, including economic issues. Through strong economic literacy, people are expected to be able to survive in any economic situation. Mainly, when the economy is difficult. 

Because of economic literacy, at least the community is taught and invited to know and understand in managing money. Understand how to control unlimited human needs and desires. While available resources remain limited. This important role of economic literacy should be presented to the community, to be more understanding and better able to control themselves in economic affairs. 

Because of the economy, the essence is not the “power” of humans over money or capital. Rather, economic literacy emphasizes more understanding that the economy must rely on 1) the rationality of the composition of costs versus benefits, 2) knowing which ones are needs – which ones are desires, and 3) the human attitude itself towards money.

Through qualified economic literacy, at least the community can be aware and knowledgeable in making economic decisions. Economic or money use is more oriented to “benefits” that are greater than “costs”. Not the other way around. 

For example. If we go to the market to buy dishes, then why is it so easy to be tempted by a “50% discount” on imported fruits. So, we forget to buy the main dish needs rather than imported fruits that are only limited to desire. The ease of shopping online is often only for “outlet for consumptive lust” which is limited to desire, because not necessarily the items purchased online are needed. This fact further emphasizes the importance of economic literacy. 

Like it or not, the culture of economic literacy is very important. So that people can become smart consumers. Consumers are more “dominant” in making decisions that are concerned with benefits rather than costs. Not the other way around, incurring high costs for matters of small benefit. 

Economic literacy plays an important role in nurturing self-control in managing limited resources or money, while desires and passions of consumption are unlimited. The self-control of the economy is what will affect the mental attitude and economic behavior of the community. Economic literacy is more focused on financial goals in the future. Literacy that can control oneself in economic affairs, about what should be done and what should be avoided. How to treat money for short, medium, and long-term economic goals proportionally. 

Finally, the ultimate target of economic literacy is people’s awareness and ability to distinguish economically between “needs and wants”. Needs that are based on the use of goods or services that are needed. Whereas desire only rests on the wish to own an item or receive a service. 

So, in the middle of a difficult economy, it is not wise if people only question national economic conditions, let alone global. Far more important, to continue to build awareness of the importance of “economic literacy”. About how to be more understanding in making economic decisions based on needs, not desires. 

Economic literacy: it may be thought of as a simple way to consider first before acting in economic affairs. To be able to make intelligent choices that are effective, not the wrong ones inefficiently.