A recent poll by YoungMoney.com found that only 24 percent of people felt they have a decent knowledge of personal finances. This correlates with the 2008 Jump$tart Coalition’s Personal Financial Literacy Exam, which found that the financial literacy of high school students is at the lowest since Jump$tart has been administering this exam. In the eleven years that the Jump$tart financial literacy exam has been given, 2008 had the worst score. In 1997, the average score was 57.3 percent, 51.9 percent in 2000, 50.2 percent in 2002, 52.3 percent in 2004, and in 2006, the average score increased to 52.4 percent before falling to just 48.3 percent in 2008.
Interactive Financial Literacy Challenge Looks for New Way to Provide Education
However, 62 percent of college students answered the questions correctly. Scores also went up with class in school: College freshman recorded a 59 percent score, while college seniors correctly answered 65 percent of the questions. On the downside, only 25 percent of young adults actually graduate from college; leaving us to assume that 75 percent of young American adults may not have basic financial skills and, even worse, may have no place to acquire them. Not everyone has the advantage of attending college; yet, everyone needs a strong foundation in personal finance.
College is a great place to learn practical financial skills. It is often the first chance for young adults to make significant financial decisions. College allows real life experience in budgeting money, spending money, and everything else necessary for living on one’s own. The younger people learn these basic skills the longer they will have to build a foundation for a lifetime of financial literacy and security. However, for many, college also means significant student loan and credit card debt. According to a survey taken by Iowa State University, their average student owns three credit cards, and most respondents to their survey said “they didn’t feel like they were spending real money when they used credit cards or student loan funds.”
The results from the 2008 Jump$tart exam also found that participants who had taken a class on money management did no better than people that had not taken such a class. In fact, the best scores on the Jump$tart Exam “were obtained by those college students who played a stock market game in high school.”
YoungMoney.com already offers a stock market game and has seen it grow by 800% in the past year alone. Since the classroom setting seems to have done nothing to increase aptitude in financial literacy, and the Young Money Stock Market Game is growing so incredibly, Young Money has decided to try another interactive educational system to teach young adults about personal finance. The Young Money Challenge will present participants with twenty questions, if someone does not know the answer to one of the questions he or she simply has to press a “help” button and a few paragraphs will pop up. After reading the information, there will be another chance to correctly answer the question.
After the challenge has been completed, participants may choose from a list of incentives offered by Young Money partners; partners such as ShareBuilder, PNC Bank, NY Life, FreeCreditPreport.com, and more. Each of these incentives has been selected to help change the actual behavior of the participants. For example, $25 in a Sharebuilder account for everyone who completes the challenge and opens a new account. Other offers including money in a savings account, two months free of a PayOff Live (a new program proven to help people get out of debt faster), money off gift certificates to restaurant.com and more. Once someone has started a savings account they are more likely to deposit money into that account and begin saving. Thus, Young Money hopes to not only make the educational part more interactive, engaging and fun, they also hope to actually change financial behavior.
Take the Young Money Challenge: finance.youngmoney.com/challenge