It’s critical for consumers to have basic understanding of personal finance.
(PRWEB) July 27, 2016
In a five-question test of basic financial literacy, only 37% of participants correctly answered four or more questions, according to a new report published by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.(1) Gary Cardone, CEO of dispute mediation firm eConsumerServices, says the findings demonstrate an urgent need for U.S. consumers to expand their financial literacy, which can help them avoid crippling debt and create greater financial security. To that end, he has compiled a list of tips and resources that can help individuals improve their financial capability and make better decisions regarding their money.
The FINRA Foundation National Financial Capability Study revealed that 63% of participants scored 3 out of 5 or lower on a financial literacy test covering interest rates, inflation, bond prices, mortgage interest and investment risk. This lack of financial literacy appeared to be reflected in some of the other findings from the study: 18% of respondents spend more than they earn, 21% have overdue medical bills, 26% have used non-bank borrowing (such as high-interest payday loans or pawn shop loans), 32% only pay the minimum due on their credit cards and 9% are underwater on their home mortgage. Less than half (46%) have a “rainy day” fund set aside for financial emergencies, and only 35% perform research or compare offers when shopping for credit cards.(1)
Cardone finds the study results troubling, particularly with some analysts predicting the United States has a 60% chance of entering another recession within the next year.(2) “It’s critical for consumers to have basic understanding of personal finance. Those who don’t often end up mired in debt, paying exorbitant interest fees, facing emergency expenses without a savings cushion or even filing for bankruptcy,” he warned. “Ideally, high schools should require students to complete financial literacy education to ensure they are prepared to make responsible financial decisions regarding credit, loans and savings when they graduate. But it’s never too late for adults to brush up on their financial knowledge.”
To help Americans improve their financial literacy, Cardone recommends the following:
- Quiz Yourself. The FINRA Foundation financial literacy quiz is available online, so consumers can test their own knowledge and compare their results against national and state averages. The results page displays the correct answers and explanations, allowing participants to pinpoint which topics they should focus on improving.
- Consult Your Bank or Credit Union. Most financial institutions offer a wealth of financial tools, resources and advice to their customers, and many share that information with the general public via their websites. Check with your bank or credit union to see what kinds of articles, comparison tools, calculators and even onsite seminars are available to you. If you have specific questions, call or visit your local branch and speak with a professional to learn more about your money management options.
- Take a Free Course. Skim through your local newspaper or online community bulletin board to learn about free finance seminars offered in your area, or choose from the many free courses offered online. EdX and Coursera both provide access to free classes from leading universities; a search for “personal finance” turned up relevant courses from the University of Michigan, Purdue University, Wellesley and the University of Florida, among others.
- Read Financial News. Browse through the top financial headlines and stories to gain a better understanding of developments that are likely to affect consumers on a national level, such as changes in interest rates, inflation, stock market activity and other relevant topics.
“Following these steps will enable Americans to improve their financial literacy, which, in turn, will empower them to make better financial decisions,” stated Cardone. “I would also advise them to track their credit rating through free credit reports, pay off debts or transfer them to an account that charges less interest, and create and follow a budget to minimize unnecessary spending and impulse purchases. With the help of educational resources and financial planning and management tools, consumers can retain much more of their hard-earned money.”
Cardone’s company, eConsumerServices, is dedicated to providing consumer education and advocacy. Online shoppers who wish to dispute a purchase, secure a refund or identify an unrecognized charge can obtain faster resolution and better outcomes by contacting eConsumerServices for assistance. The company’s dispute mediation services are free for purchases made from an eConsumerServices-endorsed merchant; other cases may incur a nominal $2 charge if they take longer than 24 hours to resolve. For more information on eConsumerServices and its transaction mediation services, visit http://www.econsumerservices.com.
About Global Risk Technologies and eConsumerServices:
eConsumerServices is a division of Global Risk Technologies, a leading provider of dynamic risk management solutions for the international payment industry. With a range of services targeted to merchants, banks and consumers, Global Risk Technologies manages over 200 million transactions worldwide each month and has offices in Europe and the United States. eConsumerServices mediates credit card transaction disputes between consumers and merchants. The firm helps consumers quickly resolve customer service issues and secure a refund or replacement with minimal time and effort, and at little to no cost. Merchants, issuing banks and credit card companies also benefit from eConsumerServices’ dispute mediation expertise by avoiding costly chargebacks and freeing up internal resources. To learn more, visit http://www.econsumerservices.com.
About Gary Cardone:
Gary Cardone is the co-founder and CEO of international dispute mediation firm eConsumerServices and a managing partner at Global Risk Technologies. His expertise in global trade and finance builds on 25 years of experience in commodities trading, with leadership roles at multinational corporations and a preeminent private equity firm. Spotting strong parallels between industry commoditization and the burgeoning Internet economy, Cardone and his partners set out to develop dynamic risk management solutions for the payment processing industry. Today, those innovations are revolutionizing the way consumers, merchants, banks and credit card issuers transact business online.
1. FINRA Investor Education Foundation. “U.S. Survey Data at a Glance”; National Financial Capability Study; July 2016. usfinancialcapability.org/results.php?region=US
2. Shen, Lucinda. “Deutsche Bank Says the U.S. Is Likely Headed for a Recession”; Fortune; July 6, 2016. fortune.com/2016/07/06/deutsche-bank-recession/