Americans Short on Financial Smarts, Experts, Surveys Say

By Togneri, Chris | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 28, 2010 | Go to article overview

Americans Short on Financial Smarts, Experts, Surveys Say


Togneri, Chris, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Many Americans think they have a firm grasp of their finances and know how to invest wisely.

Many Americans are wrong.

Economic experts and recent surveys paint of grim picture of the country's level of financial literacy.

Indeed, few Americans have adequate savings, and many people make losing investments, experts say. Compounding the problem is that many think they know more than they actually do.

"The surprise is not that people do not know, but how little people know," said Annamaria Lusardi, director of the New Financial Literacy Center. "There are some worrisome trends. And they stem from the young to the old."

Nearly half -- 47 percent -- of Americans born between 1977 and 1994, also known as Generation Y, are below average when it comes to financial literacy, with little understanding of how to budget and save efficiently, according to a survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

The survey, which polled 1,000 adults in March, also found that 45 percent of Generation Y adults have no savings.

Older Americans also are at risk, Lusardi said.

"They have the most to lose, they know the least and they think they know the most," she said. "They are going to be and are already ideal targets for scams. They have the financial means, but they don't have the knowledge. And they are not aware that their financial knowledge is low. …

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