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Financial Literacy Survey Shows Poor Skills
13 Apr
A recent poll showed that many Americans could do better when it comes to financial responsibility.

Out of 2,000 adults surveyed by the Harris Poll in March 2014, 61% admitted to not having a household budget in place. Thirty-four percent of households carry credit card balances over from one month to the next, and 15% of those balances are higher than $2,500 each month.

Credit woes

Carrying balances can lead to poor credit, yet more than half (60%) of adults haven’t looked at their credit score in the last year. While credit scores have traditionally been more difficult to obtain than a credit report, two-thirds of respondents haven’t even looked at their credit report in the last 12 months. And 54% of those taking the survey believe that credit reports contain credit scores, which they do not.

Credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion and Equifax—are available free once a year from www.annualcreditreport.com. Credit scores are available on the monthly statements of certain credit cards, and for a fee from FICO or any of the credit reporting bureaus.

Not enough savings

The same number of people were worried about not having enough savings for retirement (16%), as the number that were concerned about not having enough money set aside for an emergency.

But even though people cited lack of savings as one of their biggest worries, they also said they have not cut back on spending. In 2009, 57% said they spent less during the current year than the previous one. In 2014, that percentage dropped to 29%.

If your money could talk

When asked what grade they thought their knowledge of personal finance deserved, not many made the honor roll. Forty-one percent gave themselves a C, D, or F for their money knowledge. But the rest (59%) felt more confident, giving themselves an A or a B in personal finance.

The poll also asked what people thought their money would say if it could talk. Only 5% thought their money felt abandoned, and 8% said their money would probably ask why it was being neglected. Sixteen percent thought their money would give them a lecture and answered that their money would say, “Get your act together and focus on me for a change!”

Twenty-one percent thought their money would say it feels smaller than its friends, but another 21% thought their money would say it felt loved and nurtured. And 37% felt their money would say, “we’ve been a successful team.”

The Harris Poll was conducted on behalf of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).

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