Most people say they want financial literacy to be an important part of their life, but very few actually act on the concept. Studies have shown that less than half the population can pass a basic exam about the fundamental concepts of financial literacy.

For parents and students, this raises an important question—how to improve students’ financial literacy.

This may seem like an academic concept, but it’s not. The fact is that there are many tangible, concrete steps students can take to improve their financial literacy.

Start with having an emergency fund. Don’t feel bad if you don’t have one, though. Most adults don’t, and it often ends up costing them at some point.

The amount doesn’t have to be huge. It can be as little as a thousand dollars, and you can consider it a starting point. Ideally, you should have enough in your fund to pay off 3-6 months of basic living expenses.

The next step is to get out of debt. Debt costs money, and it impedes financial progress. List your debts from largest and to smallest, and start with the big ones if you can. That will make the rest seem easier, and once you’ve started the process of paying off debts will feel a lot easier.

Once you’ve taken those steps, start a retirement fund. Many students scoff at the idea of doing this, but if you invest 15 percent of your income in retirement you’ll be surprised at the benefits that will come your way long before you stop working.

When you have these basics in place and your financial life is under control, start saving, whether its for college, a house, or some other major purchase. Savings is a habit you build up over a lifetime, and the sooner you start the easier your life will become.

After you’ve taken these basic steps to improve your financial literacy, continue to build wealth, and give generously as you do. The core concept of financial literacy is to use it to live a quality life, one that will give you the freedom to do what you want while acting responsibly along the way.