Many Americans Adults Still on Slippery Financial Literacy Footing

Most American adults have a sizable gap in certain areas of financial literacy, finds a March survey released by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling to kick off Financial Literacy Month.

Budgeting, saving, and understanding credit reports and scores are areas where many Americans aged 18 and older have “significant” gaps of personal financial knowledge, according to the 2014 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey conducted by Harris Poll. More than 2,000 U.S. adults were polled for the survey’s eighth edition, sponsored by Experian.

“This year’s survey once again confirms what we already know: the need for financial education is great,” said Susan C. Keating, president and CEO of the NFCC, in a statement. “Without a solid foundation on which to base everyday financial decisions, Americans are on a slippery slope as they begin to rebuild their financial lives following the Great Recession.”

More than six in 10 American adults (61%) admit to not having a budget—the highest percentage in six years. And about a third of adults (34%) said their household carries credit card debt from month-to-month. 

Despite top concerns of not having enough “rainy day” savings or retirement savings, adults are spending more than in previous years. Even though a combined 32% of survey respondents are worried about insufficient emergency caches and retirement funds, only 29% said they’re spending less this year compared to the previous year. 

Many are aware of their lack of personal finance knowledge: 41% of those surveyed gave themselves a grade of C, D, or F on the topic. 

However, nearly three-fourths (73%) of U.S. adults agree that they could benefit from advice and answers to every day financial questions from a professional, given their existing knowledge of personal finance. 

To meet the need for financial education, the NFCC has developed a three-step “Sharpen Your Financial Focus” program to provide consumers with tools to help secure financial well-being. 

Access the 2014 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey. 

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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