When it comes to goals, do you have a "more" mentality? It's natural if you do.

People use this same strategy when it comes to money. In other words, if you want to get in better financial shape, earning more will obviously yield dividends. But a smarter solution may be to get a better understanding of how you spend your money and how to use it effectively.

If this is something you've been meaning to do, but haven't had the time, November is the perfect month to begin because it's Financial Literacy Month. Now in its ninth year, Financial Literacy Month is meant to re-emphasize the importance of money management.

While many people learn the basics about things like balancing a checkbook or how credit works when they're in school, it often isn't until they're much older that these skills are put into practice. Plus, these lessons often fail to include practical information like how to budget, setting financial goals, shopping wisely and how certain loans differ from one another.

Financial literacy linked to better health
Of course, when you think of financial literacy and the advantages that result from it, it's most related to your financial health. However, you may be surprised to learn that there are physical and psychological health benefits that come from being more knowledgeable about how you manage your money.

It's actually not too surprising when you think about it. Take stress as a classic example. According to analysis conducted by Statistics Canada, nearly 1 in 4 Canadians over the age of 15 say they encounter stress "quite a bit" or to a degree that makes it "extreme." And for people who range between 35 and 54, over 30% describe themselves as frequently stressed.

What's a leading cause? You guessed it: finances, second only to work as the No. 1 source, Statistics Canada reported.

Stress can cause a lot of mental and emotional turmoil, leading to unproductive days and sleepless nights. But it can also take a physical toll, as studies show financial-related stressors induce high blood pressure, weight gain, heart palpitations and gastrointestinal discomfort.

Can insurance help?
It sure can. Roughly 50% of Canadians want to learn more about how insurance fits into their financial plans. A big part of reducing finance-related stress is knowing you’ll be able to cover unexpected costs when they come up. And insurance does just that. Whether it's for your home, car, health or travel, having an insurance plan helps you budget effectively and afford the help you need during an emergency.

So, if financial literacy is so good for you, how do you go about improving it? There are many different ways, some of which may be provided by your employer, bank or online. You may want to do your research this month to see what's available, given that it is Financial Literacy Month.

Here are a few other simple solutions:

  • Read well-respected magazines, periodicals and publications.
  • Get into the habit of perusing newspapers and websites that feature financial advice solutions.
  • Listen to talk radio or search for podcasts in the Apple Store or Google.
  • Visit Statistics Canada's website and search for "financial literacy".

By prioritizing your finances this month, you'll be that much better off in just about every way imaginable in the year ahead.