Are you good with money? If you are, you're an exception.
When it comes to understanding the basics of personal finance, Americans are failing over and over again. Only 6 percent of respondents could pass this quiz on financial literacy and only 30 percent of Americans could answer these three basic money questions.
There's also more to being financially savvy than acing a quiz. Choosing the correct answer on a test and being able to apply the concepts being tested in real life are different, as the Wall Street Journal points out in a recent report by Meir Statman, a professor of finance at Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business.
"Even if people know financial facts such as the correct answer to this question, they often don't understand why they may be investing the way they do, and what their behavior means for their current and future well-being," Statman writes.
To test your all-around financial literacy, take the Wall Street Journal's quiz here (paywall), and check out some of the representative questions from other assessments below. How many can you answer correctly?
How much will the typical married couple retiring at age 65 spend on out-of-pocket costs for health care throughout retirement (in today's dollars)?
Only 6.9 percent of respondents correctly guessed 5: $266,000.
Health-care costs are on the rise. According to a recent survey by financial services company Financial Engines, the average 65-year-old couple covered by Medicare parts B, D and a supplemental insurance policy will spend more than $250,000 on health-care costs in retirement.
Most Americans grossly underestimated.
"More than half (58 percent) of those 65 and over — and three-quarters (76 percent) of those ages 55 to 64 — believed the typical married couple retiring today at age 65 will need between $50,000 and $200,000," Financial Engines reports.
Suppose you have $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2 percent per year. After five years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow?
The correct answer is 1: More than $102. You'd have $102 after the first year. Over the next four years, interest will grow on that $102, meaning you'll have more than $102. It's a phenomenon known as compound interest.
This question comes from this three-question survey by economists Annamaria Lusardi and Olivia Mitchell.
If you purchase a bond and interest rates rise, what will happen to the price of the bond?
Only 19.9 percent of respondents correctly guessed 3: Fall on this question also from the Financial Engines quiz.
Bond prices and interest rates have an inverse relationship, so when interest rates rise, bond prices drop and vice versa.
What is a fiduciary?
Just 42 percent of respondents correctly identified the definition of a fiduciary, Betterment reports. Furthermore, 20 percent of survey respondents believed that "fiduciary" and "financial advisor" were synonymous, and 27 percent didn't know what a fiduciary was at all.
A fiduciary is has a legal duty to act in your best interest. Those not working to the fiduciary standard are held only to a suitability standard, meaning their advice must be suitable for your financial situation.
"Fiduciary" and "financial advisor" are far from synonymous. As professor Harold Pollack and financial journalist Helaine Olen explain in their book, "The Index Card, " "a financial advisor working to the fiduciary standard has a legal duty to act in your best interest and is not getting paid to steer you into buying overpriced investment products you don't want or need."
If you were able to set aside $50 each month for retirement, how much would that end up becoming 25 years from now, including interest, if it grew at the historical stock market average?
The correct answer is 3: about $40,000, assuming a 7 percent rate of return. Only 16 percent of the 2,000 respondents answered correctly on this retirement IQ test by Fidelity Investments.
While knowing basic facts about money will help you figure out how best to save, invest and spend your money, not understanding the larger concepts could put you at risk. When you understand why you're investing a certain way, you can make educated decisions about when to invest more, when to withdraw funds and the best way to build wealth.
The best way to improve your financial literacy is to do your homework. Read up on saving and investing. Check out this guide on everything you need to know about 401(k)s, IRAs and other retirement savings accounts.
Books are also an invaluable resource, as well as an affordable one. Self-made millionaires agree that "Your Money or Your Life, " by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez is a must-read for anyone trying to build wealth. You can also check out this list of personal finance classics summed up in a single sentence and this compilation of the favorite books of billionaires.
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