According to Bankrate's Financial Literacy Survey for 2004, Americans as a group can only get "D" in mastering personal finance. The survey, which was based on 1,000 phone survey, focuses on the awareness and action on the following 12 concepts:
- Paying bills on time
- Reading bank account statements regularly
- Making more than the minimum payments on credit cards
- Preparing a will
- Contributing to a retirement account
- Comparison shopping for a mortgage
- Keeping an emergency fund of at least three months' living expenses
- Shopping around for the best insurance quotes and coverage
- Following a monthly budget
- Adjusting your W-4 form annually
- Checking your credit report annually for accuracy
- Looking for and switching to credit cards with lower rates
The BankRate site also has more interesting observations from the result of the survey.
Personally, I am doing all the above except for not preparing a will yet (I will do so this year -- I have purchased Group Legal Plan thru my employer and will use it to prepare my will, living will and other legal documents.) I agree with the conclusion from the survey that financial knowledge really helps to make one's life better.