If you were to grade Americans on their ability to manage money, many of them, it seems, would earn Cs and Ds.
The National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) recently administered its National Financial Literacy Test, a 30-question quiz designed to measure 15- to 18-year-olds’ ability to earn, save and grow money, to people of all age groups, and none of the demographics aced it. Here’s a quick breakdown of the average scores for each age group:
- 10- to 14-Year-Olds: 53.56% (679 Participants)
- 15- to 18-Year-Olds: 60.35% (6,544 Participants)
- 19- to 24-Year-Olds: 67.8% (1,191 Participants)
- 25- to 35-Year-Olds: 71.99% (845 Participants)
- 36- to 50-Year-Olds: 72.87% (882 Participants)
- 50+: 76.81% (856 Participants)
NFEC tested more than 11,000 people from all 50 states. Sample questions include: “What is networking?”, “Which of the following financial products can help you lower your personal risk?” and “Why would I want to improve my credit score?” (You can see how you would score by taking the test here.)
Improving Your Own Financial Literacy
NFEC’s test results aren’t the first statistics that suggest Americans are lagging on financial literacy. A Gallup poll from 2015 found that the U.S. ranked 14th in the world in financial literacy. Other past surveys have found many Americans know nothing about their employee benefits, are woefully unprepared for retirement and have serious knowledge gaps when it comes to credit scores. (You can see get a credit score primer here. You can also see where your credit currently stands by viewing your free credit report summary, updated each every 14 days, on Credit.com.)
While it’s certainly encouraging, if not all that surprising, to see that our money management knowledge gets better with age, it’s in Americans’ best interest to build a strong financial literacy foundation early on. Failing to do so could easily lead to major debt woes and damaged credit scores, which, in turn, could make it harder to achieve major financial milestones, like buying a home, paying off student loans, or, even, retiring when they’re eligible, down the line.
Fortunately, there are lots of online resources that can help you improve your financial literacy. Some government websites, including MyMoney.gov, offer good primers. And you can ask your college, university or local board of education if they offer any free financial literacy classes you might be able to take advantage of.
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