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Financial ignorance cost people $9,700 on average: Survey

When you're not savvy about personal finance, you

When you're not savvy about personal finance, you pay a price. Credit: Getty Images iStockphoto / mactrunk

Ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s expensive.

The National Financial Educators Council recently released results of a survey about financial knowledge conducted with 3,006 people in six age categories across the United States. They were asked, “Across your entire lifetime, about how much money do you think you have lost because you lacked knowledge about personal finances?”

The average was over $9,700 — and 25 percent thought their lack of personal financial knowledge had cost them $30,000.

When you’re not savvy about personal finance you pay a price. You won’t learn overnight; start somewhere. Here are a few tenets to get you going.

Pay yourself first

“Put something — anything — into a savings account every time you receive a paycheck or other income. If you’re tempted to transfer money from savings back into a checking account, open a savings account at a separate bank or credit union (don’t get an ATM or debit card),” says Todd Christensen, author of “Everyday Money for Everyday People.”

Save and invest no matter how small, advises Cheryl Nash, president of investment services at Fiserv in Warren, New Jersey.

Follow the 50-20-30 rule

“Spend only up to 50 percent of your after-tax income on essentials, like housing and food; 20 percent on financial priorities — debt repayments and savings; and 30 percent on lifestyle choices, such as vacations,” says Natasha Rachel Smith, a personal finance expert in Montclair, New Jersey.

Manage debt

Only charge what you can pay off in full when the bill arrives. Don’t spend more than you earn.

Study up

It’s never too late to learn. Check to see what educational material your bank offers and take advantage of sites like,, and others.


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