The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for basic personal finance and money management skills, according to a new Charles Schwab Financial Literacy Survey. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of U.S. adults said financial education was the most important supplementary graduation requirement to math, English and science. That compares with 43% who said health and wellness education was the most important requirement.
“History shows that every time our country faces a crisis – whether it’s COVID-19, Hurricane Katrina, or 9/11 – the need for greater financial literacy becomes more apparent,” said Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of Charles Schwab Foundation, in a statement. “We are in a really uncertain time period when a lot of Americans are faced with difficult financial decisions that will have immediate and long-term effects on their lives.
“Financial literacy is a survival skill that everyone needs.”
Nearly nine in 10 Americans (89%) said a lack of financial education contributes to some of the country’s social issues, including poverty (58%), lack of job opportunities (53%), unemployment (53%) and wealth inequality (52%).
They survey found half of respondents would be hard-pressed to cover a $1,000 or less emergency expense in the next month, if they had to.
Many respondents indicated that they wished they had been taught financial skills when they were younger, including the value of saving money (59%), basic money management (52%) and how to set financial goals and work toward them (51%).
The survey, conducted online by The Harris Poll, gathered responses from 2,046 U.S. adults ages 18 and older in early June.