Money-Smart Kids/Brazil is better than the U.S. in financial literacy too?
Published 2:47 pm, Tuesday, May 8, 2012
As an avid soccer fan, I have seen many a world ranking in which Brazil is skillfully on top of the U.S. in soccer in men's soccer. While we did have the one glimmer of hope in 2007 when our U.S. U-20 beat Brazil, those days are few and far between. The women's U.S. National Team has fared a bit better.
But financial literacy? Now that's one I think most would agree that we'd have the upper hand, until you start realizing that we sometimes mistake wealth for financial literacy. Think about it. How many stories do we hear on a regular basis about a wealthy athlete or entertainer that goes broke? Income and financial fitness are not the same thing.
Visa tested the strength and weaknesses of financial education worldwide in order to identify opportunities for improvement. Between February and April they conducted
a survey with 25,500
participants in 28 countries.
The results can be seen at www.practicalmoneyskills.com/resources/pdfs/FL_Barometer_Final.pdf.
Brazil topped out the field, scoring 50.4 out of 100. Mexico, Australia, the United States and Canada rounded out the top five. Five survey questions were included in the rankings. Questions 1, 2 and 3 each contributed 25 percent to the overall score. Questions 4 and 5 contributed 12.5 percent. Scoring was based on a 0-100 scale, with 100 equaling a perfect score.
The question are as follows:
Do you have and follow a household budget?
How many months' worth of savings do you have set aside for an emergency?
How often do you talk to your children ages 5 to 17 about money management issues?
To what extent would you say that teenagers and young adults in (your country) understand money management basics and are adequately prepared to manage their own money?
At what age do you think governments should require schools to teach financial literacy to children, so that they can better understand money management issues?
There are some disturbing implications in this study. For one, the United States doesn't even break the top five in any single category. And when asked, "To what extent would you say that teenagers and young adults in (your country) understand money management basics and are adequately prepared to manage their own money?"
we were No. 27. Don't worry, Westport's numbers are higher because you're reading my article and taking action, right?
Another concern was that while 75 percent of the United States' respondents said they had at least one month of expenses saved, only 25 percent said they had over six months saved. Conventional advice says you should have at least six to nine months' living expenses. As a financial adviser, I actually differ from that number; I believe 12 to 18 months is more appropriate.
Although a lot of this data is not great news, there is one positive note. Over 66 percent of the U.S. respondents said that they talked to their kids about money at least once per month. Way to go, Westport -- I'm sure our 100 percent score lifted that national average!
Tom Henske is a Westport resident and partner with Lenox Advisors, a wealth management firm with offices in New York and Stamford. His "Money-Smart Kids" appears every other Wednesday. He can be reached at: email@example.com.