Financial Literacy Can Reduce Overall Financial Stress and Increase Financial Wellness, Survey Says

Nearly 90 percent of Americans believe financial literacy courses should be a high school graduate requirement. An annual consumer survey highlights growing concerns about financial stress. The survey, which was conducted by Equifax, follows a 2017 American Psychological Association study that found money to be one of the top stress-inducing concerns for Americans.

When consumers from the Equifax survey were asked to grade themselves on their basic level of financial literacy, only 39 percent of surveyed consumers gave themselves a “B”, while 33 percent of consumers between the ages of 18-29 gave themselves a “C.”

Because so few Americans get financial literacy classes in high school, Equifax will make financial information and education more accessible to its consumers. Dann Adams, president of Global Consumer Solutions at Equifax, said the company will provide “the fundamentals and basic credit essentials to help consumers establish the right habits early on.”

“We want to help consumers get to an ‘A’ grade, which is why we’re studying and offering new ways to help them improve their financial literacy grade,” Adams added.

Should Financial Literacy Be Required For Graduation?   

Currently, each state sets its own requirements for high school graduation, although there are federal guidelines. While few states currently mandate financial literacy, some 30 percent of states are already looking for ways to incorporate financial literacy into high school curriculum.

What Are Results of Financial Literacy Education?

In schools where a full semester of financial literacy was required a FINRA Investor Education Foundation report card showed significant improvement in credit scores for young adults aged 18 to 22. A separate study conducted by Ohio State University’s Center for the Study of Student Life found that students who had completed financial literacy courses are less affected by financial stress.

What If Your School Did Not Offer Financial Literacy Education?

While more students in the future will likely receive financial literacy education, what about adults? “Consumers often think that because they didn’t do well in high school math, that they can’t manage their finances, but that’s just not true,” said Ilyce Glink, CEO of Best Money Moves, a mobile-first financial wellness app that helps people measure their level of financial stress.

“I believe that everyone can do about 95% of whatever they need to do with their money themselves. You don’t need a professional to help you figure out a budget or shop around for car insurance to get the best deal. You can easily learn to implement those cost-saving and financial management strategies yourself,” she said.