If you don't think you have a handle on your finances, don't worry: some of the most intelligent people in the nation aren't faring much better.
According to a recent survey from credit reporting company Equifax, one-third of people surveyed give themselves a "C" grade for financial literacy. However, roughly 40% give themselves a "B." It may not help that 41% of all consumers get their financial knowledge from their parents, with just 17% amassing it from high school or college courses. In fact, 90% think a financial course should be required to graduate high school.
However, even the folks most likely to teach high-level finance courses aren't so confident in their financial literacy. Fidelity Investments found that college professors generally give themselves a "B" grade for their financial knowledge -- similar to 40% of average U.S. workers. Why not an "A?" Well, they're pretty solid on financial fundamentals, but 29% aren't sure of the investment mix of their retirement plan. Meanwhile 37% of professors, including 47% of Generation X faculty (born 1965-1980) consider themselves "beginners."
Though 42% of professors consider retirement a top priority -- with their average reported savings a whopping 15% of combined employer-employee contributions -- more than 54% of faculty think they might outlive their retirement savings. Also, 34% have trouble understanding Medicare and health care costs, while 32% have difficulty choosing specific investments.
"It's encouraging that saving for retirement is a top priority for many in higher education, and they recognize they need to improve their level of financial knowledge," said Alexandra Taussig, senior vice president at Fidelity Investments.
If you just did a little dance and chuckled about how those fancy professors are so dumb about money, you should maybe wipe the goofy grin off of your face before looking in the mirror. Yes, professors are concerned about their financial knowledge, but at least they're trying to educate themselves and improve that situation. Non-faculty seldom share those concerns.