While a majority of Americans have trouble understanding basics about money, women tend to perform less well on financial literacy tests than men, according to researchers. But at a certain point in their lives, the vast majority of women catch up.
It's for a sobering reason, though: Because they realize their husbands are going to die.
In a report by economists Annamaria Lusardi and Olivia Mitchell, only about 34 percent of people surveyed could correctly answer three questions about how to save in bank accounts and invest in stocks. When the data is broken out by gender, women scored lower than men.
"We do see that women's financial literacy needs some work," says Mitchell, the executive director of the pension research council at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
One reason for the information gap is because men usually handle financial responsibilities in households, Mitchell tells CNBC Make It. Then the prospect of a death in the relationship shifts the calculus.
"Typically, since women marry men older than they are, their husbands die before they do," she says. "So what we can see as time marched forward, is that the women tended to start out as less financially literate — but as the day approached where their husband passed away, the women gained financial skills."