Investing legend and Vanguard Group founder John C. "Jack" Bogle died this week at the age of 89. While his personal fortune was valued at a whopping $80 million and "he regularly gave half his salary to charities," the New York Times reports, he wished he had done one thing differently.
"My only regret about money," Bogle said in 2012, per the Times, "is that I don't have more to give away."
Much of his giving went to the educational institutions "that shaped his character, notably Blair Academy and Princeton University," according to his obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was a scholarship student at both schools, and his generosity as an alum "far outstripped his legendary frugality."
Bogle was born in 1929, and he learned a great deal from the way his family weathered financial hardship during the Great Depression.
"They were tough times and I started working when I was 10 years old, delivering papers and eventually becoming a waiter," he said in 2012. "I learned you work for what you get, and I feel sorry for people who haven't had that upbringing."
Though it was difficult that his family "lived with uncertainty," he said in a 2014 interview with The Sacramento Bee, it also taught him the value of hard work: "You learn at a very young age, you'd better roll up your sleeves."
Not everyone has the kind of background that imparts key lessons about money, however. In fact, though many people feel good about their financial health, the realities for most Americans are more complicated.
Last year, the National Financial Educators Council created a 30-question financial literacy quiz to test young adults' ability to earn, save and grow their finances. Of the nearly 25,000 participants, less than half passed. The average score was 64 percent.
Likewise, a 2017 survey by financial-services company Financial Engines found that 47 percent feel more secure about their finances today than they did five years ago. When Financial Engines gave the same survey respondents an 11-question financial literacy quiz, however, only 6 percent passed.
The John C. Bogle Center for Financial Literacy, a nonprofit co-founded in 2010 by now-president Mel Lindauer, aims to help educate Americans "about sound financial principles, including living below one's means, staying out of debt, saving, investing wisely in a diversified, tax-efficient manner, minimizing investment costs, and contributing to available retirement plans," Lindauer says.
The goal is "to continue Vanguard founder John C. Bogle's crusade to see that investors get their fair share of market returns," Lindauer adds, "and to raise the level of financial literacy for all investors so they can realize their goals and achieve financial independence."
Vanguard, the largest mutual fund organization in the world, now manages assets from more than 20 million investors in 170 countries and had over $5 trillion in assets under management as of Thursday.
Much of its success was spurred by Bogle's idea of using index funds as an investment tool — an idea now backed by experts like Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban and Tony Robbins, among others — which hold every stock in an index, offer low turnover rates, attendant fees and tax bills, and eliminate the risk of picking individual stocks.
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