Survey results expose disturbing lack of financial skills

Could Americans be doomed to a future of personal financial instability? All signs point to yes, according to annual survey results from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).

In recognition of Financial Literacy Month, the NFCC and the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association (NBPCA) released the results of the 2012 Financial Literacy Survey. In its sixth year, the Financial Literacy Survey provides data and trends surrounding Americans’ attitudes and behaviors related to personal finance.

Unfortunately, survey data revealed a disturbing lack of basic financial skills that are critical to building a stable financial future. Consider the following results in areas such as budgeting, saving, responsible bill-paying and money management:

  • More than half of U.S. adults admit that they do not have a budget.
  • One-third of U.S. adults, or more than 77 million Americans, do not pay all of their bills on time.
  • Thirty-nine percent of adults carry credit card debt over from month-to-month.
  • Two in five adults indicated that they are now saving less than they were one year ago, and 39 percent do not have any non-retirement savings.
  • Twenty-five percent of those who do not currently have non-retirement savings indicated that, if they did begin to save, they would keep their savings at home in cash.

“This year’s survey unveiled some disturbing trends, showing that a significant number of Americans are saving less, spending more, and carrying credit card debt over from month-to-month, suggesting that the painful financial lessons of the past are quickly being forgotten,” said Susan C. Keating, president and CEO of the NFCC.

“Coupled with the two in five adults who gave themselves a C, D or F on their knowledge of personal finance, the need for an increase in financial education becomes not only clear, but urgent,” Keating said. 

If you can relate to those results, it's time to wise up! Don't let yourself be another statistic. Take advantage of the tools and resources Money Management International offers — not only throughout the month of April — but year-round. The need for financial literacy doesn't magically disappear come May 1. Therefore, we offer a variety of content and services to get you started on the right path — whenever that may be. 

And remember, this year we're making FLM more valuable than ever by giving away $200, $300 and $500 prizes! What could be a better start to financial freedom than free money? Sign up for the Financial Literacy Sweepstakes today for your chance to win! 

The 2012 Financial Literacy Survey was conducted by telephone within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the NFCC and NBPCA between March 16 and March 19, 2012, among 1,007 adults ages 18 and older. Results were weighted for age, sex, geographic region, and race where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.

Jessica Horton is a former copywriter and community manager at MMI.