Financial service companies spend billions of dollars a year marketing their products and services—credit cards, checking and savings accounts, car loans, mortgages and home equity products.
By comparison, very little is spent to provide American children with the tools they'll need to deal with the financial decisions they'll face in life.
A new study from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) documented the huge disparity in this spending. The study found that the industry spends approximately $17 billion annually on consumer marketing. But only about $670 million is spent on financial education each year in this country.
Put another way: While $54 a person is spent on financial marketing to American consumers, only $2 per person is spent to educate them on money matters.
"When consumers receive the vast majority of their financial information from companies that are trying to promote an image or sell products, consumers have very little unbiased information," Richard Cordray, director of the CFPB, said in a statement.
Cordray said the report, "Navigating the Market," "further reinforces the dire need for more and better financial education in this country."
There's nothing wrong with truthful advertising. But to some, the huge disparity in expenditures is troubling.
(Read more: Five things teens don't know about money)
"Our financial lives are becoming increasingly complicated and it's hard to make good decisions when you don't even understand the basics," said Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education at Credit.com. "Marketing is designed to sell products and sometimes those may not be the products you need or should be spending your money on."