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Many Americans Fail To Take Care Of Financial Basics

No business would operate without a budget, and balancing income and expenses is also a crucial ingredient for personal financial success. Yet according to a study by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, fewer than half of Americans keep a close eye on what they spend.

Just two in five survey respondents said they closely track expenses. That leaves 58% who claimed either to have a “somewhat good idea” or little or no idea of how much they spend. This sloppiness about spending extends to overall credit management, with more than half of those surveyed saying they had never ordered copies of their credit reports, and almost three in 10 didn’t know they were entitled to one free copy of the report each year. And almost a third of survey respondents said they fail to meet monthly credit card minimums, thus incurring penalties and higher interest rates.

And what of those who are mindful of what they spend? How did they get that way? Typically, they learned the financial basics at home, when they were young. The study shows a clear link between having an early grounding in financial management principles and exhibiting positive money habits later in life.

Financial responsibility as an adult starts in childhood. Teaching your children how to manage their money wisely—and making sure they understand what may happen if they don’t—can be one of the best gifts you ever provide.

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