Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Financial Capability Survey Finds Many Americans Struggle with Finances

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation released the results of America's State-by-State Financial Capability Survey. The survey features a clickable map of the United States and allows the public, policymakers and researchers to delve into and compare the financial capabilities of Americans across all 50 states and the nation as a whole.  

The State-by-State Financial Capability Survey, which surveyed more than 25,000 respondents, was developed in consultation with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, other federal agencies and the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability.  It found a significant disparity in financial capability across state lines and demographic groups.

The five measures of financial capability used to rank the states measure how well Americans are managing their day-to-day finances and saving for the future. The national averages among survey respondents for these key measures are below.

Fewer than half (41 percent) of Americans surveyed reported spending less than their income.
Over a quarter (26 percent) of Americans reported having unpaid medical bills.
More than half of Americans (56 percent) do not have rainy-day savings to cover three months of unanticipated financial emergencies.
Over a third of Americans (34 percent) reported paying only the minimum credit card payment during the past year.
On a test of five basic financial literacy questions, the national average was 2.88 correct answers.

 "This survey reveals that many Americans continue to struggle to make ends meet, plan ahead and make sound financial decisions—and that financial literacy levels remain low, especially among our youngest workers. No matter how you slice and dice it, this rich, new dataset underscores the need for us to continue to explore innovative ways to build financial capability among consumers," said FINRA Foundation Chairman Richard Ketchum.

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