Money Talks, So Should You

50-Plus Finance: Why are basic financial concepts still a mystery?

David Leto
by David Leto , Dimespring 30 (@50PlusFinance)

In my daily schedule I spend two to three hours a day managing several personal finance blogs. For me, knowledge of what to do in a financial situation is second nature, and I sometimes forget that most people do not know what to do with their money.

With all the access to financial education available to us today, the basics of money management seems to be a mystery to most people. So why are people in such terrible money situations?

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A recent article on BusinessWeek.com, "Young Women Are Bad at Money, Say Old Men," references a poll of financial advisers. Conducted by AdviceIQ.com, the poll reveals the level of financial knowledge of clients. Because the advisers have daily interaction with clients, the website believes they have an idea of the general public’s level of personal finance knowledge.

The poll’s main conclusion was that women are in desperate need of a financial advisers’ help. Really? It's further not surprising that a male-dominated industry claims women are inclined to have less financial acumen than men do.

The results also show that lower income levels have less financial knowledge than middle- and upper-class workers. These results are of no surprise to anyone.

Another major study concludes that not only are women lacking in financial education, but so are Hispanics, African-Americans, the oldest segment of the elderly population, and those who are not well educated; all have less financial knowledge than the average population.

It seems the key areas that most people aren't prepared for in basic money management include saving for emergencies, retirement and major purchases. Also, living in a world of easy credit allows many to get stuck in a lifetime of being in debt. Money that should be put into savings and investment is going to pay off high-interest debt. Sounds kind of like our government.

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I'm not a financial adviser, just someone who has financial knowledge as a daily staple. I believe that these people who are branded as lacking in financial knowledge aren't really lacking anything but the will to act on the knowledge. I have given advice to family and friends over the years when I see a problem. It can be a financial problem like overspending, debt overload, not saving for retirement, or a lack of basic insurance coverage. I make my suggestions to them and they don't act. They possess the knowledge, but the will to act is missing.

What makes someone ignore good financial knowledge? Is it laziness, procrastination or fear?

There is an abundance of financial information and professionals waiting to help you get your financial ship on course. Most people just do not use what they already know and they end up missing the boat.

David Leto writes about family, finances, and retirement planning for the 50-plus person. David is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and attitudes on personal finance.