Rising inflation and market volatility, a global pandemic, and complex emerging financial technologies like cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and BNPLs add to the weight of the financial decisions Americans make every day. Add to that unequal and inconsistent access to financial education and adults are faced with an ever-increasing need to seek financial education wherever they can find it.
Building on Investopedia’s Wealthy Millennials study, Investopedia conducted the Investopedia 2022 Financial Literacy Study to identify where a representative sample of American adults want additional support so we can help them address the need for that information.
The goal of the 2022 Investopedia Financial Literacy Study is to quantify how informed and prepared four generations of American adults feel to manage their own financial decisions. The study asked participants to rate their financial knowledge in eight key areas:
- Loan/debt management: loan features, repayments
- Consume: manage spending, maintain a budget
- Digital currency: cryptocurrency, blockchain, NFT
- Insurance: types of coverage and how insurance works
- Investment: different types of investment, risks and returns
- Tax payment: how and when to file, exemptions
- Retirement planning for the future, contribution amounts
- Savings: maximizing your savings, knowing how much to save
Instead of testing participants on their financial knowledge, the study asked participants to characterize their own understanding to better identify areas in which they feel confident and to see which skills they think are most important to learn. The study also surveyed participants about:
- financial concerns
- Where do they look for new information?
- How do you prefer to learn?
- Investment expectations, retirement and cryptocurrencies.
The 2022 Investopedia Financial Literacy Survey was conducted via an online self-administered questionnaire from January 27 to February 7, 2022 to 4,000 American adults. Respondents from a voluntary market research panel were invited to participate in the survey via email and provided a monetary incentive for doing so. To qualify, participants must have lived in the US and at least partially manage their own finances.
To understand each generation’s perception of their financial literacy, we surveyed 1,000 Americans from each generation (Generation Z, Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers) and used quotas to ensure representation within each generation for these key characteristics, using estimates from the US Census (ACS 2019). as a reference point (see graph below).
At the end of the survey, respondents were asked to report their individual and family income. In order for the final data to more accurately reflect the US income distribution, data weighting was applied to the sample. First, household income was adjusted for regional price parities within the respondent’s state (ie, cost-of-living adjustment) using BEA data as a benchmark.
Adjusted household income from the survey was then compared to data from the 2020 census to assess representativeness within the sample. To more accurately assess earnings, additional weights were calculated within each generation and racial/ethnic group (eg, Black Millennials, Hispanic Baby Boomers, etc.) to ensure accurate representation within each group.
No sample is perfectly representative of its larger group; in our survey, this means that lower-income Generation Z, Generation X, and baby boomers are overrepresented compared to the US Census benchmarks. This is the result of a) natural consequences of the respondents and b) how we have weighted responses to prioritize representation among racial subgroups. With low-income Americans taking disproportionate financial risk, the need to make sound financial decisions is even more significant. We found that these deviations ultimately do not contradict the primary goal of the survey, which is to understand Americans’ financial literacy gaps and anxieties in order to provide them with the information they need at every stage of life.
In addition, Investopedia used an online subscription market research sample provider to conduct this survey. While this practice is common for consumer surveys and makes public surveys much more accessible, this method lacks the broader applicability of random sampling.
Finally, this survey sample contains only adults up to 76 years of age. We did not survey adults age 77 and older, nor did we survey teens, even though both groups are also making financial decisions and share a need for financial education. We made the decision to limit the scope of our research to adults ages 18-76 in order to maintain a generational perspective, and also because both adults ages 77 and older and adolescents are difficult populations to survey online, requiring resources that are outside the scope of the project.
Investopedia used learnings from a variety of sources and reports as additional background research for this study, including the Milken Institute’s Report on Financial Literacy in the United States, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s Annual Survey of Consumer Financial Literacy ( NFCC) and the TIAA-GFLEC Institute staff survey. finance index. The weighting scheme was developed in consultation with Chirp Research.
Special thanks to the editorial team at Investopedia for their care and dedication in putting together this study, as well as their expertise in personal finance and investing.