On June 20, 2019, the FINRA Foundation released the fourth and latest wave of the National Financial Capability Study. The executive summary, The State of U.S. Financial Capability, reveals that cash-strapped Americans are failing to save money, struggling with student loan debt, and facing decreasing financial literacy, despite economic growth and declining unemployment over the past 10 years. Moreover, trends from the past four waves of the study show signs of widening or persistent gaps among certain groups. While Americans, as a whole, have seen their ability to cover monthly expenses and bills improve since 2009, the 2018 data show that younger Americans, those without a college degree, African-Americans and those with lower incomes are struggling financially, calling into question the improved economy’s ability to work as needed for all.
The good news is financial education matters. The FINRA Foundation’s study shows that both the amount and quality of financial education correlate positively with behaviors indicative of financial capability. Respondents who receive more financial education or believe their financial education was higher quality are more likely to save and less likely to overdraw their checking accounts, engage in fee-generating credit card behaviors, or use non-bank borrowing methods.
A challenge for the field is that less than one-third of Americans—only 29%—have been offered financial education at a school, college, or workplace, and only one-fifth (20%) have engaged. Less than 1 in 6 (15%) report having been required at some point in their lives to take financial education.
Although measuring the efficacy of financial education efforts can be challenging, the FINRA Foundation’s financial capability study is able to show important correlations between exposure to financial education and positive financial behaviors. We are pleased to contribute to a growing body of literature that guides the way to #afinlitfuture for all.
- FINRA Foundation “Thinking Money” Widget: A collection of fun facts about money, powered by the Foundation’s National Financial Capability Study, that link to educational resources and tools. We regularly add new tiles, and you can embed the tool (for free!) on your website.
- Youth Financial Education Resources: Visit https://www.saveandinvest.org/educate-youth for an array of engaging videos and links to lesson plans and assessment tools.
Con ‘Em If You Can Game and Educator’s Guide
Con ’Em If You Can is a video game that teaches players about the types of persuasion tactics used to perpetrate financial fraud. Play online at www.ConEmIfYouCan.org, or download the mobile app.
Money Math for Teens
Financial capability requires strong math skills. These lesson plans cover APR, APY and compound interest for middle and high school students.
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