One thing that has become clear during the financial crisis of the past year is that Americans are spending more, saving less, and generally making poor financial decisions. The average American's savings rate is far lower than those in other industrialized nations, such as France and Germany at about 10%. In addition, according to a report conducted by public policy organization Demos-USA, the average indebted young adult spends nearly $0.25 of every dollar on debt payments.
If you think that's bad, a new survey from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Americans' access to banking services found that about 17 million Americans don't even have a bank account. The primary reason was lack of funds, and according to the survey, nearly 18% of all U.S. households have relied on payday lenders, pawn shops, or check-cashing outlets at least once in the past five years. As the article goes on to explain, some of these borrowers end up paying the equivalent of an annualized interest rate as high as 500%.
For me, though, the statistic that really stood out was that almost a quarter of all households headed by someone who didn't finish high school were considered "unbanked."
Obviously, there's a direct correlation between education and making smart financial decisions. Unfortunately, most high schools do not offer financial literacy courses. That's why the Fool is continuing our annual Foolanthropy campaign to spread financial education. And we're in good company because JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) , Charles Schwab (Nasdaq: SCHW ) , McGraw-Hill (NYSE: MHP ) , Allstate (NYSE: ALL ) , and Ford (NYSE: F ) have also had philanthropic efforts focused on financial education.
What are we doing this year? The Fool has "adopted" a local public charter school, located in one of D.C.'s most impoverished neighborhoods, by pledging to make a generous donation and teaching financial literacy workshops to students and parents. And we're asking the community at large to help, too.
For every article comment, blog post, blog comment, and discussion board post throughout the campaign, The Motley Fool will donate $0.10 to our adopted school (up to $20,000). So let us know what you think! Use this opportunity to share your thoughts on financial literacy, volunteerism, and what you're doing in your own community.
Claire Stephanic does not own any of the stocks mentioned. Charles Schwab is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.