Web DebtSmart.com
Tuesday, July 16, 2024  
Printable Format   

Financial Literacy Statistics

Scott Bilker Scott Bilker is the founder of DebtSmart.com and author of the best-selling books, Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card DebtCredit Card and Debt Management, and How to be more Credit Card and Debt Smart. Receive the 5-Year Loan Spreadsheet when you subscribe to his email newsletter.

The below compilation of statistics comes from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions.

American Children, Teenagers and Young Adults:

  • Of the 4,000 students who took the Jump$tart personal finance survey in 2004, 65.5% received failing scores. (1)
  • A study of 1,065 teens found that 21% of 18 and 19-year-olds have credit cards. (2)
  • People in the 18 to 24 age bracket spend nearly 30% of their monthly income just on debt repayment – double the percentage spent in 1992 (10% of net income is a recommended amount for debt obligation). (3)
  • American children, teens and young adults (ages 8-21) earned about $211 billion in 2003. This group is spending at a rate of approximately $172 billion per year. (4)
  • The average 21-year-old in the U.S. will spend more than 2.2 million in their lifetime. (5)

American Families:

  • 40% of Americans say they live beyond their means. (6)
  • Between 25 million and 56 million adults are unbanked (i.e. not using mainstream, insured financial institutions.) (7)
  • The average household with debt carries approximately $10,000 to $12,000 in total revolving debt and has 9 credit cards. (1)
  • 50.8% of college-age adults agree with this statement: “I have experienced repeated, unsuccessful attempts to control, cut back or stop excessive money use.” (8)
  • In 2005, savings rates dipped to minus 0.5 percent, something that hasn’t happened since the Great Depression in 1932 and 1933. A negative savings rate means that Americans spent all their disposable income and dipped into past savings or increased their borrowing. (9)
  • Americans shelled out more than $24 billion in credit card fees in 2004, an 18% increase over the previous year. (10)

College Students:

  • 45% of college students are in credit card debt, the average credit card debt being more than $3,000. (1)
  • University administrators state that they lose more students to credit card debt than to academic failure. (11)

Bankruptcies, Defaults, and Foreclosures:

  • The number of 18 to 24-year-olds declaring bankruptcy has increased 96% in 10 years. (12)
  • In 2002, more people filed for bankruptcy than graduated from college in 2002. (13)
  • Personal bankruptcies nearly doubled in the past decade, including more than 1.6 million people who filed for personal bankruptcy in 2003. (14)
  • Home foreclosures in 2002 reached the highest rate in 30 years. (15)

Financial Literacy Education:

  • 38 states have personal finance standards or guidelines, 21 states with standards require them to be implemented, 8 states require a course with personal finance content, 7 states require students to take a personal finance course to graduate. (16)
  • More than 9 in 10 adults and students believe it is important for the people of the United States to have a good understanding of economics. However, only half of high school students say they ever have been taught economics in school. (16)


(1) Jump$tart Coalition, 2005
(2) Junior Achievement, 2005
(3) Generation Broke: The Growth of Debt Among Young Americans
(4) Harris Interactive, 2003
(5) Share-Save-Spend.com
(6) Fort Worth Business Press 2002
(7) Oversight Hearing on Financial Education and Literacy, 2004
(8) MyVesta 2002
(9) U.S. Commerce Department, 2006
(10) Cardweb.com, 2005
(11) Utah Mentor, 2003
(12) Richmond Credit Abuse Resistant Education (CARE) Program
(13) U.S. Department of the Treasury
(14) Annual Hawaii Economic and Financial Literacy Conference, 2004
(15) Senate Resolution 48, 2003
(16) National Council on Economic Education, 2003

This entry was posted in Statistics. Bookmark the permalink. Read more articles by Scott Bilker. (Also see articles by all authors and articles in all categories.)

Facebook Comments


Subscribe FREE and start finding new ways to save money and pay off your debt.

"The DebtSmart Email Newsletter is packed with cutting-edge strategies for solving credit problems. I highly recommend it."--Gerri Detweiler, radio host and author of The Ultimate Credit Handbook

NBC 10 News:
Money King Secrets
<Photos and Video>
Art Fennell Reports
<Photos and Video>
CNN: CNN Newsroom
<Photos and Video>
CNN: American Morning
<Photos and Video>
ABC: Action News
<Photos and Video>
CNN/fn: Your Money
<Photos and Video>
<See all Television Interviews>

Subscribe to the DebtSmart® RSS Feed
   Add to Google