Money matters: Significant knowledge gaps exist about basic finance

(1) James S. Rickards High School, Tallahassee, Florida, (2) Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

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The goal of this study was to assess the basic financial knowledge and money saving skills of high school students and adults. Surveys containing basic questions about investments, loans, interest rates, taxes, credit, and other common personal financial subjects were given to 50 minors and 40 adults. With this study, we had four hypotheses. Firstly, we hypothesized that subjects would answer about 30-40% of the questions correctly. Secondly, we hypothesized that adults would perform better than minors due to greater lifetime experience with financial matters. We also hypothesized that male and female minors would perform similarly. Our last prediction was that male and female adults would perform similarly. Our results indicate that the respondents had a poor understanding of financial concepts. The results obtained from this study supported all four hypotheses. Overall, the subjects demonstrated poor proficiency in financial matters with a mean correct response of 33.1%. While there was a statistically significant difference in financial knowledge between adults and minors (p < 0.05), the differences between males and females for both groups, minors and adults, were not statistically significant (p > 0.05).

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