NEW YORK (MainStreet) Maybe Millennials should be asking for a refund on those student loans. Less than one-quarter (24%) of young adults can correctly answer four or five questions in a simple five-question quiz covering financial basics. And among the freshest crop of young adults -- those aged 18 to 26 -- only 18% were able to answer four or five questions correctly.
A new study by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation reveals a startling lack of awareness for financial fundamentals that could further frustrate a generation that has faced unemployment and a dismal economy since entering the workforce.
"Many Millennials began their adult lives in the midst of the worst economic downturn in generations, and our survey reveals just how deeply and broadly the Great Recession has marked the financial lives of this generation of Americans," says FINRA Foundation President Gerri Walsh. "Unfortunately, far too many Millennials trying to cope with these economic conditions have low levels of financial literacy and are wrestling with concerns about their debt."
However, the study also revealed that despite the greater financial strain that Millennials face, they express levels of financial satisfaction that are similar to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.The survey was conducted online, sampling 25,509 American adults (approximately 500 per state, plus D.C.), over a four-month period, July to October 2012, weighted by age, gender, ethnicity and education. Here are the five survey questions:
- Suppose you have $100 in a savings account earning 2% interest a year. After five years, how much would you have? More than $102, Exactly $102, Less than $102, Don't Know
- Imagine that the interest rate on your savings account is 1% a year and inflation is 2% a year. After one year, would the money in the account buy more than it does today, exactly the same or less than today? More, Same, Less, Don't Know
- If interest rates rise, what will typically happen to bond prices? Rise, fall, stay the same, or is there no relationship? Rise, Fall, Stay the same, No relationship, Don't Know
- True or false: A 15-year mortgage typically requires higher monthly payments than a 30-year mortgage but the total interest over the life of the loan will be less. True, False, Don't Know
- True or false: Buying a single company's stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund. True, False, Don't Know