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Financial Literacy Month: Shocking Survey Results

Thursday, 2 Apr 2009 | 11:15 AM ET

April is Financial Literacy Month, a time of year for Americans of all stripes to assess their financial situations and take the steps necessary to improve their financial well being.

This year, it has more relevance than ever. We spoke to Susan Keating of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling on Wednesday’s show, who revealed a preview of the results of a survey conducted by the NFCC to gauge the financial literacy of the American public.

The results, some of which you may find shocking, are below. Full survey results will be posted on DebtAdvice.org on April 28.

Improving Financial Literacy
How to improve your comprehension of financial knowledge, with CNBC's Sharon Epperson and Susan Keating, National Foundation for Credit Counseling president & CEO.

2009 Financial Literacy Survey Sneak Preview
Background
• The 2009 National financial Literacy Survey will be released during a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill later this month.
• This is the third annual survey.
• Purpose is to gauge the financial literacy of the American people which has become increasingly relevant in today’s economic environment.

Methodology
• Exclusive poll commissioned for the NFCC by Harris Interactive
• 1000 adults 18 and over
• Conducted by phone
• Conducted in March

A few key findings released…

Financial Literacy
• 41% of Americans or nearly 100 million people, graded themselves a C, D, or F related to their knowledge of financial literacy, suggesting there is considerable room for improvement.

Debt
• 30% or approximately 68 million Americans admit to paying a bill late, making a short payment, or skipping a payment entirely.
• In the past 12 months, 17.5 million Americans either have bills in collection, have considered filing for bankruptcy or have filed for bankruptcy.
• 13 million people carry a debt of $10,000 or more from month to month.

Housing
• 28% say that their mortgage turned out to be different than they expected. Meaning either payment or terms of loan were different than what they expected, interest rate was different, no knowledge of PMI, etc.

Savings
• One-third of Americans report that they have no savings set aside for a “rainy day.”
• Of those, more than half report that when faced with an emergency, they would charge that expense or take out a loan thus adding to their debt load. Meaning without savings you have poor resolution choices when facing an emergency.

Spending
• 57% of Americans report spending less than they were a year ago…However, 45% admit that if economy were to turn around, they would resume their previous spending habits.

Credit Score
• In spite of it being free, two-thirds or 144 million Americans have not ordered their credit report. Additionally, more than one-third admit that they do not know their all-important score.

Retirement
• 33% of Americans do not put anything toward retirement. Up from 28% last year.


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