Find financial literacy resources that can help you learn

Financial literacy: A insanely necessary skill that you may not even know you need.

When it comes to understanding key financial topics, most people unfortunately fall short. Formal personal finance education doesn’t really exist in most places. And when it does exist, it’s often extremely outdated. For instance, most of our staff who received at least some education in finance say they learned things like how to balance a checkbook… Not exactly a useful skill these days.

Financial Literacy is the ability to understand basic financial tools and processes that you need to be successful. The articles below track current consumer literacy trends in the U.S. to see how different groups fare. Below the articles, you can find more information about what financial literacy is, why it matters and what it looks like today.

Dollar sign with life saver in ocean

Americans Are Finally Saving For Emergencies

August 9, 2017 | Joe Pye

The number of Americans without an emergency fund is at a six-year low.

Illustration of three Americans who made financial mistakes because of spending habits and budgeting

What’s Your Dumbest Debt Mistake?

August 4, 2017 | Michael Koretzky

Our favorite answer: Marrying the wrong person.

My Family On a Budget

Dishes Helped Steve Improve His Finances

July 12, 2017 | Brian Bienkowski

They remind the My Family On a Budget writer of his money mistakes.

Families unsure about how to save money at the store are also unsure about how to teach kids money

Parents Still Don’t Know How to Teach Their Kids About Money

July 11, 2017 | Ryan Lynch

Even though parents want to have a conversation, bad habits are passed down through generations

Time to think about retirement savings: Stacks of coins lead up to a retirement savings jar with an alarm clock

The World Is Running out of Retirement Money

July 3, 2017 | Dori Zinn

Generations retiring in a couple decades may not even get a retirement because of a $400 trillion retirement savings gap.

A geographical color-coded depiction of the U.S. ranking states by consumer credit

Why Do Trump Voters Have Worse Credit Than Democrats?

June 29, 2017 | Brandon Ballenger

States that voted for Trump have fewer credit cards, lower balances, and a worse understanding of money.

u.s. teens fail financial literacy

U.S. Students Score Below Average on Worldwide Financial Literacy Test

June 27, 2017 | Ryan Lynch

The test on basic money knowledge has been administered twice — and Americans failed it both times

women manage money better

Women are Better Than Men at Money Management

June 13, 2017 | Dori Zinn

Women are not only better at saving, but also at investing. However, women don’t know they are better than men at money management.

Shot of a young businesswoman standing in an office

Women Manage Money Better Than Men

May 16, 2017 | Gregory Cox

Study finds that women are more likely to financially prepare for the future

how to teach your kids about money

What 10-Year-Olds Know About Money That You Don’t

May 8, 2017 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Are kids today financially smarter than previous generations?

Financial stress upsets business man traveling home by train

Most Young Millennials Don’t Know What a 401(k) Is

May 4, 2017 | Dori Zinn

Millennials don’t know what basic money terms are, and that’s a big problem.

Young clever woman during her job and money conversation

Men are More Likely to Seek Financial Advice Than Women

May 2, 2017 | Dori Zinn

Men are more likely to ask for financial advice than women. What’s holding women back from talking about money?

If laying out an budget that manages debt has you confused and stressed about money, you may need Financial Literacy 101

Americans Agree with Research: They Aren’t Financially Literate

April 26, 2017 | Dori Zinn

You probably don’t know enough about financial literacy, and your parents are to blame for it.

America Saves Week

Who Cares About Financial Literacy Month?

April 24, 2017 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

It’s just another manufactured holiday. It doesn’t matter. Right?

spending tax refund

Should You Spend Your Tax Refund Now? 

April 21, 2017 | Dori Zinn

A quarter of Americans expecting a tax return will spend their money before they get it.

Here's how to save for retirement

15 Golden Rules for Saving on Every Purchase

April 14, 2017 | Money Talks News

We’ve got a big list of ways to save on everything — and we do mean everything.

The cost of funerals can lead to debt without end of life planning; even without family inheritance you need estate planning

Shhh: I’m Giving You Money

April 10, 2017 | Dori Zinn

Aging Americans want to leave an inheritance, but don’t want to talk about it.

Howard Dvorkin on debt

It’s Financial Literacy Month. Give Yourself Some Credit! [VIDEO]

April 4, 2017 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

This month, Debt.com answers all your questions – in under a minute.

When it comes to kids and money, teach kids to work on their finances to avoid things like adult Millennials living at home

You’re Not Talking To Your Grown Kid About Money

March 27, 2017 | Dori Zinn

Most families believe having money chats is very important but neither parents nor their adult children are actually talking about finances.

dealing with money shame

This Year, I’m Getting Rid of Money Shame for Good

March 2, 2017 | Make Change

One woman’s personal quest to get right in her head and wallet.

Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell search for good legislative ideas (illustrated)

5 Smart Pieces of State Debt Legislation

February 23, 2017 | Brandon Ballenger

If Congress needs help helping people, it should look to these state legislators.

rainy day fund

No More Rainy Day Funds

February 21, 2017 | Joe Pye

Most Americans aren’t financially prepared to handle an emergency expense. Cars and sickness are the worst.

The cost of funerals can lead to debt without end of life planning; even without family inheritance you need estate planning

Americans Can’t Handle Will, Estate, Inheritance Talks

February 15, 2017 | Dori Zinn

Most families have strong misconceptions about the value of an estate and this hurts us later in life when our loved ones pass away.

money or looks

For Love of Money

February 14, 2017 | Joe Pye

Americans prefer financial stability over looks and fitness in romantic partners.

Can working moms work?

How Can I Teach My Children To Be Entrepreneurs?

January 26, 2017 | John Rampton

If you do, they’ll grow up better human beings, even if they never become an entrepreneur.

If you're like two thirds of adults, you have a fear of debt; the solution is to wipe it out

Most of Us Fear Debt

January 25, 2017 | Dori Zinn

Two-thirds of young adults have an actual fear of debt, even though they plan their spending on a constant basis.

If laying out an budget that manages debt has you confused and stressed about money, you may need Financial Literacy 101

If You’re Stressed About Money and You Know It Raise Your Hand

January 11, 2017 | Dori Zinn

Money has a huge impact on our overall well-being in life. To reduce stress and be happier, we need money or a better attitude when it comes to money.

5 ways millionaires are like us

10 Dumbest Things Millionaires Have Ever Wasted Their Money On

January 11, 2017 | John Rampton

No matter what our wealth level, we seem to waste money. It must be some part of human nature because it doesn’t matter how little or how much we have – there are some that see money as burning a hole in their pocket and they must spend it. Still others have proven it’s possible […]

Money saving resolutions

Most of Us Suck When It Comes to Money

December 13, 2016 | Dori Zinn

No state in the union has an A in financial literacy

Money saving resolutions

Most Americans Don’t Have a Financial Plan

December 6, 2016 | Dori Zinn

Most middle-income Americans don’t have a financial plan, while nearly half of those making more than $100,000 a year have do have one.

who do we waste money with prescriptions apathy?

Dvorkin On Debt: What Happens When We Know Better?

December 5, 2016 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Three new polls prove we know what to do about money, but we just refuse to do it.

If laying out an budget that manages debt has you confused and stressed about money, you may need Financial Literacy 101

Is Tying The Knot Easier Than Uniting Finances?

November 24, 2016 | Debt.com

For those who answer yes, there’s good advice and even outside help.

Ryan Lochte Swimming

Dvorkin On Debt: What You Can Learn From Ryan Lochte’s First Credit Card

November 14, 2016 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

The swimmer, dancer, and Debt.com spokesman just got a credit card. Here’s why that matters.

How to celebrate your mom on Mother's Day.

Women Advising Women

November 7, 2016 | Lucy Lazarony

Will female clients increase demand for female financial planners?

Businesses try to reward employees with Martin Luther King Day off, but for many it means time to focus on their side hustle

Ask The Expert: When Does A Small Business Become A Big Problem?

October 19, 2016 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

A mother has the money to lend her daughter for a jewelry business, but she’s not sure it’s a good idea.

When it comes to kids and money, teach kids to work on their finances to avoid things like adult Millennials living at home

More Parents Want to Talk About Money Instead of Sex

October 17, 2016 | Dori Zinn

There’s a generational divide when it comes to kids knowing how much their parents earned

Check your credit to see where you stand

Never Read Your Credit Card Contract? It Might Cost You

October 4, 2016 | Money Talks News

Only 26 percent of cardholders regularly read them. Find out why that’s a mistake.

how to teach your kids about money

Dvorkin On Debt: A Clever Way To Teach Kids About Money

September 19, 2016 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Focus on the parents first, then persuade them to teach their children.

Get a helping hand with debt problems

How to Choose the Perfect Financial Adviser

September 13, 2016 | Money Talks News

There are at least 250,000 financial advisers in the United States, and not all are created equal.

If the struggle of gender equality for women, some are ashamed to face their finances, as they hold more debt, not savings

Moving Past Financial Mistakes

September 1, 2016 | Dollar Stretcher

Don’t let old mistakes ruin your future. Try these five tips.

Want to make your donation to charity count? Do your homework.

Do You Know Where Your Donations Go?

August 31, 2016 | Dori Zinn

These Transparency Dodgers are the 10 largest charities that didn’t disclose operation information, including fundraising performance.

children's finances

Ask The Expert: How Can I Save My Kids?

August 17, 2016 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

A reader wants to know the best way to teach her children about the value of money.

student loans credit card

Off to College Next Year? Now You Can Apply for Aid Sooner

August 3, 2016 | Dori Zinn

You can now apply for financial aid a year in advance

Students Are Missing Out on Thousands of Dollars

July 28, 2016 | Treanna Lawrence

Many households don’t think they qualify for need-based financial aid – they’re wrong.

how to teach your kids about money

Parents Don’t Know Enough About Personal Finance to Teach Their Kids

July 27, 2016 | Dori Zinn

They can teach saving and budgeting — barely — but not much else

Dvorkin On Debt: Pokemon Go Should Be Pokemon Dough

July 18, 2016 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

The latest craze in mobile gaming can teach as much as it entertains.

If laying out an budget that manages debt has you confused and stressed about money, you may need Financial Literacy 101

Ask The Expert: Which Bill Do I Pay First?

June 22, 2016 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

A reader has only enough to pay the mortgage, car lease, or credit card. But not all three.

financial lessons from prince

Dvorkin On Debt: A Prince-ly Sum

May 30, 2016 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

3 financial lessons we can learn from the artist known as Prince

don't repay our student loans

College Grads Making More Sacrifices for Student Loans

May 16, 2016 | Treanna Lawrence

Many Americans are figuring out the hardest lesson from college comes after you graduate

financial terms

Financial Literacy: Suddenly Not Controversial

April 25, 2016 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

For years, “experts” argued against teaching fin lit in high school. Now the public has spoken.

how to teach your kids about money

Ask The Expert: How Much Do I Owe My Children? [VIDEO]

February 17, 2016 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

A reader doesn’t want to deny her daughter anything, but her husband does.

lottery myths

Ask The Expert: What’s So Bad About Playing Powerball?

January 13, 2016 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

A reader wants to know how to shut up her boyfriend about her lottery habit. Howard sees a bigger problem.

worst financial mistakes

25 Worst Financial Mistakes Anyone Can Make

November 19, 2015 | Debt.com

The good news: You can easily avoid all of them without breaking a sweat.

10 stupid money mistakes

Ask The Expert: Do We Really Need A Financial Adviser?

October 14, 2015 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

A reader thinks her husband is crazy to pay for someone to advise them when they have no money.

businessman holding dollar bills

Dvorkin On Debt: Cash Is Still King

September 21, 2015 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Long live the king!

children's finances

Dvorkin On Debt: How To Teach Kids About Money

September 14, 2015 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Giving an allowance is just the beginning.

Who's smarter about money? Women

Women Aren’t Talking About Money – Here’s Why

September 10, 2015 | Debt.com

Hint: They value privacy and lack confidence.

How do you teach kids about money?

Dvorkin On Debt: Do You Bribe Your Kids?

August 10, 2015 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

If so, there’s a right way and a wrong way. The right way is called “allowance.” The wrong way is called “cookies.”

foreign transaction fee

Good News! Credit Card Foreign Transaction Fees Are Going Away!

May 19, 2015 | Jason Steele

This ridiculous fee cost you big, even though it didn’t cost your credit card company anything.

rich worried about retirement

Even The Rich Are Worried About Their Retirement Savings

May 18, 2015 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Their woes might be good for the rest of the country.

5 ways millionaires are like us

Millionaires: 5 Ways They’re Just Like Us!

May 7, 2015 | Jess Miller

Millionaires are expected to have it all, but here’s why they fear losing it — and what you can learn from them.

how to avoid financial stress

One-Quarter Of Americans Report Being Financially Stressed All The Time

April 23, 2015 | Jess Miller

Women and younger people freak out about finances more, but they don’t have to. Here’s why.

college loan mistakes

Financial Illiteracy Month Part IV: 5 Mistakes Students Make with College Loans

April 22, 2015 | Brian Bienkowski

If you make these mistakes in college, you could be paying for them long after graduation.

financial terms

How Many Of These Financial Terms Do You Know?

April 16, 2015 | Jess Miller

April is Financial Literacy Month. But if you’re like most Americans, you may not know what all that stuff means. We break down some key terms for you.

cartoon of someone stealing another identity by having their credit cards

Financial Illiteracy Month Part III: 5 Ways to Get Your Identity Stolen

April 15, 2015 | Brian Bienkowski

Don’t make an identity thief’s job easy. Avoid these costly mistakes.

lottery myths

More People Would Rather Win The Lottery Than Find True Love

April 14, 2015 | Jess Miller

Surprised? Here are 5 myths about winning the lottery that you didn’t know.

vacation of the future

Are You “Leaving Millions on the Table”?

April 13, 2015 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

It’s not a trick. Your boss will pay you to live healthy.

children's finances

Getting Personal With Your Children’s Finances

April 6, 2015 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

You need to have “the talk” with your kids — about money.

vacation of the future

Financial Literacy Month Is A Lot Like Dental Hygiene Month

March 30, 2015 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

What do saving your money and saving your teeth have in common?

women don't talk about money

Why Women Don’t Talk About Money

February 23, 2015 | Jess Miller

Women save better than men, but talking about financial planning is a different story.

vacation of the future

Slate Says “Financial Literacy Doesn’t Work,” I Say They’re Wrong

February 16, 2015 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Last month, Slate magazine declared financial literacy a useless pursuit. That made me mad.

New Year's resolutions

How Americans’ New Year’s Resolutions Are Going

January 29, 2015 | Jess Miller

A new study says that Americans who vowed to lose weight in 2015 are also losing something else: debt.

Who's smarter about money? Women

Who’s Smarter About Money? Men Or Women?

November 10, 2014 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Women, because they know what they don’t know.

Millennials can't save? Not true

Millennials often seek financial advice, but not from banks

September 30, 2014 | Jess Miller

Gen Y’s coming of age party was the Great Recession, so they don’t trust banks for financial advice. Guess who they turn to.

graduation hat on top of stack of cash to show how much student loan debt one is

Some for-profit colleges may lose federal funding

September 26, 2014 | Jess Miller

The U.S. Department of Education says too many students at these schools are defaulting on loans.

Around the web

This week around the web

September 5, 2014 | Jess Miller

Avoiding campus credit cards, why butter prices are going up, and the unconventional way one woman plans to pay for her daughters’ college education.

America Saves Week

What do Americans fear more than death?

August 25, 2014 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I can’t spare you from dying, but I can help you with something you fear even more.

America Saves Week

Our mission: Teach outside the classroom

July 7, 2014 | Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Learning about money doesn’t have to feel like homework at Debt.com.

More people are stressed about vacation planning than their finances

June 4, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

New research shows we may have the wrong priorities when it comes to stress. But is that really a bad thing?

Who knew underwear could teach teens about money?

Awkward questions teach teens about money

April 24, 2014 | Brandon Ballenger

A quirky nonprofit thinks underwear and Lindsay Lohan can teach high school students financial literacy.

We need financial education for kids at least as much as sex ed.

What’s the most controversial class your children can take?

March 24, 2014 | Michael Koretzky

You should worry more about your kids’ financial activity than their sexual activity.

What does Walter White have to do with your money? Everything.

Breaking Bad: 5 money tips from Walter White

October 24, 2013 | Brian Bienkowski

Walter White created a drug empire by generating the best product and brutally defending his turf. But he also imparted valuable lessons on life and money. it may sound crazy to learn life lessons from a meth dealer, but when it comes to money there is definitely wisdom to be imparted.

What is financial literacy?

If you’re financially literate, it means that you understand a wide range of key consumer finance topics. You:

  • Know how basic checking and savings accounts work and how to avoid things like overdrafts and account closures.
  • Understand general rules for financing and loans, so you can get approved to meet major life goals.
  • Recognize the importance saving and have at least a basic grasp of investing to achieve better growth.
  • Can manage debt effectively to minimize the risks of financial distress, repossession, bankruptcy and foreclosure.
  • Understand how credit works and what steps you need to take to achieve and maintain a high credit score.

You don’t have to be a financial expert to be financially literate; you just need to know enough that you can manage your money day to day without causing problems. When it comes to personal finance, knowledge really is power. The more you know, the more likely you are to be successful.

5 Key Financial Literacy Statistics from 2017

#1: Less than one in five Americans give themselves an “A” for education

According to an 2017 Mintel study published through Experian, most Americans aren’t confident about their financial knowledge. Only 19% of Americans would give themselves an “A” for financial literacy. The rest of us fully admit that when it comes to solid money management, we know that we don’t know.

The same study found 21% of Americans are “not at all confident” that they can achieve their retirement goals. That makes sense, because if you don’t know how to strategically manage debt and invest wisely, you can save effectively.

#2: The average score on the National Financial Capability Test is 63

The National Financial Educators Council offers a National Financial Capability Test that measures your financial IQ. They created the test for 15-18 year-olds to see whether or not young adults are prepared for financial independence. Last year, that age group scored an average grade of 60.

However, the test is also open online to adults of all ages. They don’t score much better at 63.17, on average. In fact, only 48% of the over 17,200 people that have taken the test received a passing grade.

If you have some time, we recommend following the link above to take the test. It can be a good way to figure out if and where you lack key financial knowledge. Then you can come back here to start studying up in our Education Center.

#3: New Hampshire has the highest literacy rate, while Louisiana has the lowest

WalletHub conducted a WalletLiteacy Survey this year to see which states had the highest and lowest levels of financial literacy in the U.S. The scores measured everything from Financial Literacy Test grades for high school students to the number of adults with savings.

New Hampshire scored the highest at 72.26, while Louisiana scored the lowest at 57.10. Still, it’s not saying much when the highest score is barely a “C”; it just goes to show how far we all have to go before we can really claim to have a high literacy rate.

#4: 69% of Millennials say they’ve received no form of financial education

If you think grade-school educators are any more engaged with personal finance education now than they were when you went to school, think again. According to a National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions study, almost 7 in 10 Millennials admit they haven’t received any education.

Oddly, the same study revealed that 3 out of 5 Millennials reported they were “extremely” or “very” knowledgeable about financial products. You may be able to chock that up to the inexperience of youth. Unlike the adults polled in #1, Millennials haven’t had time to make enough mistakes to realize they don’t know enough.

#5: For every $1 spent on financial education, $25 get spent on marketing

Without classroom courses to learn, most people learn by encountering financial products in their daily lives. However, given that 25 times more money gets spent on marketing than on basic education, most people only encounter financial products when someone is trying to “sell” them a product. That’s according to a CFPB study of spending by financial institutions.

That’s not exactly a recipe for financial success. Without a basic knowledge of financial products outside of an up-sell marketing message, people don’t know what to use and what to avoid. For example, let’s say you overspend on credit and end up $10,000 in debt. Your mailbox is likely to be filled with offers for debt consolidation loans, balance transfer credit cards and settlement offers. How do you know which option to use to actually get out of debt successfully?

If you just read that question and don’t know how to answer it, start here. However, it shows just how dangerous a marketing culture without education can be.