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Retirement Planning > Retirement Investing

Few Americans rate their financial savvy an “A”

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An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that financial education is important, but few give a top-notch rating to their knowledge of saving, investing and retirement, according to a new report.

Genworth Financial discloses these findings in a September 2013 survey, “Psychology of Financial Planning.” Conducted in partnership with J&K Solutions LLC and Toluna Inc., the online survey polled 1,011 Americans ages 25 and older with household incomes of $50,000 or higher.

The report finds that nearly all (97 percent) respondents believe that financial education is important. But when asked to grade their knowledge of savings, preparing for retirement, investing and retirement options/strategies, the largest percentage of respondents give themselves a “B.” Smaller percentages rate their knowledge an “A” (13 percent) “C” (30 percent), “D” (11 percent) or “F” (7 percent).

“Financial decisions, behaviors and actions are highly motivated by emotional and psychological factors,” says Dr. Barbara Nusbaum, a New York-based psychologist and money coach, commenting on the survey in a press statement. “If we can better understand our personal feelings about money, we will be more able to educate ourselves and, most important, better apply this knowledge to secure our own and our families’ futures.”

The survey respondents have a lower opinion of the average American’s knowledge of savings and investing:

Letter grade A (2 percent)

Letter grade B (6 percent)

Letter grade C (27 percent)

Letter grade D (45 percent)

Letter grade F (19 percent)

The survey adds that nearly 8 in 10 pre-retirees (78 percent) think they don’t have enough saved for retirement. The respondents attribute the following factors to the causes for this:

Economic conditions (64 percent)

People’s lack of financial education (58 percent)

People’s irresponsible spending (57 percent)

Other factors (4 percent)

Most survey respondents (75 percent) say that “each individual” should take responsibility for educating the American public/society on basic financial matters. Smaller percentages of those polled flag:

parents/family (56 percent)

teachers/schools (50 percent)

financial institutions and advisors (34 percent)

independent third-party organizations (19 percent)

government (17 percent); and

other entities (1 percent)


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