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The Financial Literacy Crisis



Imagine driving a car without a basic understanding of the rules of the road, or even how to operate it. Scary thought.

Yet many Americans are operating their personal finances with only the barest minimum of knowledge — especially those in the younger generation. When asked five basic questions about finances and the markets, only 24% of millennials were able to answer 4 or 5 questions correctly. Only 18% of younger millennials (ages 18 to 26) got 4 or 5 answers right.¹

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that approximately $670 million is spent each year on financial education by public, private and non-profit sectors.² Now this may sound like a sizable sum until you realize that it translates to a little more than $2 per U.S. citizen, per year.

For perspective, the financial services industry spends about $17 billion each year to market products and services to Americans.²

It has been said that knowledge is power, and if that’s true, then too many Americans lack the power to control their financial futures. Success rarely comes accidentally; it is the culmination of a journey whose first steps are in education.

One of the obstacles to increasing financial knowledge is what might be called the “Lake Wobegon effect,” the idea that we all consider ourselves above average.³ It is a self-assessment that keeps many from learning as much as they need to. But whatever your knowledge level may be, it should be recognized that an ever-evolving financial landscape puts a premium on continual learning.

There is a wide range of resources for individuals who understand that the more informed they are, the better the decisions they can make.

If you are committed to increasing your financial literacy, a good beginning is never being afraid to ask questions of financial professionals. Another good place to start your self-education is on a U.S. Treasury-sponsored website, which was created for that very purpose.⁴

1.   FINRA Investor Education Foundation, 2014. 

2.   Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, November 2013 (Most recent statistics available.)

3.   Word IQ, January 2014

4.   www.treasurydirect.gov

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2016 FMG Suite.

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