You Don’t Know Nearly as Much About Personal Finance as You Should

by Jason Unger

It astounds me how little we are taught about personal finance in school.

In my twelve years of public education, I never once took a class related to money. And I know I’m not alone.

Turns out, the lack of knowledge about personal finance spreads across the country. According to a recent survey from the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy:

  • 53% of respondents did not know what the Dow Jones Industrial Average was.
  • 52% could not describe the advantages of a Roth IRA.
  • 43% could not identify a FICO score as the most important factor in receiving a loan
  • 76% did not know that when in need of short-term emergency cash, bouncing a check costs more than wire transfers and short-term payday loans.
  • 71% of people severely underestimated the amount of time it would take to pay off a credit card balance making only the minimum payments.

“Considering the wall-to-wall media coverage of the financial crisis, it is startling to see how few Americans have a grasp on the most basic economic facts,” says James Bowers, managing director for CEEL.

“It is clear that we need to increase personal finance education at all ages so we have better informed employees, borrowers, and voters. Americans need the tools to understand both their own personal finances and the economy at large.”

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