Financial Illiteracy Cost Americans $1,279 in 2019

Lacking financial literacy and not knowing how to manage one’s personal finances carried a high cost in 2019. The NFEC conducted a survey asking American adults to estimate how much money they had lost during the year due to lack of financial knowledge. The single-question survey asked U.S. residents across the country, “During the past year (2019), about how much money do you think you lost because you lacked knowledge about personal finances?”

A total of 2,506 people responded to the survey between December 31st 2019 and January 3rd 2020. Six different age groups across the U.S. were represented among those surveyed. Among this diverse group of respondents, the estimated average amount of money that lacking knowledge about personal finances cost people was $1,279 in 2019.

If we generalize the results to represent all of the approximately 240 million adults who live in the U.S., lack of financial literacy cost Americans a total of more than $307 billion in 2019.

Survey Results

The survey asked 2,506 people across six age groups the following question:

During the past year (2019), about how much money do you think you lost because you lacked knowledge about personal finances?

Available Choices and Results Were:

$0 – $499

61.33%

$500 – $999

10.53%

$1,000 – $2,499

10.73%

$2,500 – $9,999

7.30%

$10,000 +

10.09%

Additional Data

17.4%

17.4% Report 2019 Loses at $2,500+

0
38.7%

38.7% Report 2019 Loses at $500+

0

The average respondent lost $1,279 due to lack of financial knowledge in 2019.

Past Survey Results, January 2019

Lacking financial literacy and not knowing how to manage one’s personal finances carried a high cost in 2018. The National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) sought to find out how much money people estimated they had lost across the year due to a lack of financial knowledge. In a one-question online survey, U.S. residents were asked, “During the past year (2018), about how much money do you think you lost because you lacked knowledge about personal finances?”

A total of 1,500 participated in the survey between January 1st and January 4th, 2019, representing six age groups across the country. Among this diverse group, respondents estimated that lacking knowledge about personal finances cost them an average of $1,230 in 2018. This figure was calculated by averaging the total number of respondents selecting each category, using the lowest number in each spread.

The survey asked 1,500 people across six age groups the following question:

During the past year (2018), about how much money do you think you lost because you lacked knowledge about personal finances?

Available Choices and Results Were:

$0 – $499

58.8%

$500 – $999

10.1%

$1,000 – $2,499

11.6%

$2,500 – $9,999

11.7%

$10,000 +

7.8%

Additional Data

19.5%

19.5% Report 2018 Loses at $2,500+

0
41.2%

41.2% Report 2018 Loses at $500+

0

The average respondent lost $1,230 due to lack of financial knowledge in 2018.

Cost of Financial Illiteracy 2018

Past Survey Results (January 2018)

This is the 2nd survey conducted by the NFEC that sought to find out how much money people estimated they had lost across the year due to a lack of financial knowledge. In a one-question online survey, U.S. residents were asked, “During the past year (2017), about how much money do you think you lost because you lacked knowledge about personal finances?”

A total of 1,515 participated in the survey, representing six age groups across the country. Among this diverse group, respondents estimated that lacking knowledge about personal finances cost them an average of $1,171 in 2017. This figure was calculated by averaging the total number of respondents selecting each category, using the lowest number in each spread.

The survey asked 1,515 people across six age groups the following question:

During the past year (2017), about how much money do you think you lost because you lacked knowledge about personal finances?

Available Choices Were:

The Results

18%

18% Report 2017 Loses at $2,500+

0
41%

41.2% Report 2017 Loses at $500+

0

The average respondent lost $1,170.95 due to lack of financial knowledge in 2017 alone.

Cost of Financial Illiteracy

Past Survey Results (March 2017)

Between March 12th and 17th 2017, the National Financial Educators Council asked 3,006 across the US, “Across your entire lifetime, about how much money do you think you have lost because you lacked knowledge about personal finances?”

The survey was conducted online, answers were randomized and inferred demographic data was used. Respondents from 6 age groups (18 – 24, 25 – 34, 35 – 44, 45 – 54, 55 – 64, 65+) participated. The goal of the survey was to measure people’s opinions about the value of personal finance education relative to other coursework commonly offered by high schools.

The survey asked 3,006 people across six age groups the following question:

Across your entire lifetime, about how much money do you think you have lost because you lacked knowledge about personal finances?

Available Choices Were:

The Results

33%

Reported lifetime losses over $15,000 were reported by 1 out of 3 respondents.

0
25%

1 in 4 people reported losses over $30,000 due to a lack of financial knowledge.

0

Using the low end of the numeric spread respondents lost $9,724.83 due to lack of financial knowledge.

Using the highest numeric spread ($30,000 was used for $30,000+ answer), respondents lost $13,237.94.

Financial Illiteracy Costs

Results by Age Group

18 – 24 Year-Olds

25 – 34 Year-Olds

35 – 44 Year-Olds

45 – 54 Year-Olds