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Americans clueless about 401(k)s

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Americans like to think of themselves as financially astute, but 90 percent of those under 50 have no idea how much money they’re allowed to add to their 401(k)s. 

This and other disturbing findings were the result of a survey from Fifth Third Bank, which also discovered that 44 percent live paycheck-to-paycheck and that they’re twice as likely to check social media than to check savings or checking account balances each day. 

Sixty percent of respondents believe themselves to be up on financial matters, but their other answers belie that evaluation.

Less than half of millennials don’t know what a credit score measures, more than half of respondents couldn’t tell you the difference between secured and unsecured credit, and 36 percent have no idea what their credit score is. 

Millennials do so-so at contributing to 401(k) plans, with 45 percent of them doing so. But they’re unlikely to be putting enough aside, because just 13 percent know they can sock away up to $18,000 a year. 

Only 42 percent of respondents overall contribute to a 401(k) plan, and of those who don’t, 46 percent aren’t even eligible — or else their company doesn’t offer a plan they can contribute to. 

The survey found that 60 percent of Americans don’t have enough money in their savings accounts to live on for six months or more, should something happen to their jobs, and while 81.6 percent of respondents lacking higher or post-secondary education said that it’s important to have a savings account, 30.2 percent do not have one. 

When it comes to credit cards, 88 percent of respondents can tell you that APR stands for annual percentage rate. Sadly, just 38.5 percent actually know what the APR is on their primary credit card.

Encouragingly, though, 85 percent know their checking account balance.


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