Suppose you have $100 in a savings account earning 2% interest a year. After five years, how much would you have?
A. More than $102
B. Exactly $102
C. Less than $102
Now... imagine that the interest rate on your savings account is 1% a year and inflation is 2% a year. After one year, would the money in the account buy more than it does today, exactly the same, or less than today?
If interest rates rise, what will typically happen to bond prices? Rise, fall, stay the same, or is there no relationship?
C. Stay the same
D. No relationship
True or false: A 15-year mortgage typically requires higher monthly payments than a 30-year mortgage but the total interest over the life of the loan will be less.
True or false: Buying a single company's stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.
The answers to the above are A, C, B, A, and B -- and if you got them all right, or even got just three of them right, you should be proud. (Sort of.)
But would you believe that the average score of American adults who took this five-question test sponsored by FINRA (the nongovernmental Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) was less than 3 out of 5?
That's right. In fact, your average test-taker across these 50 United States got just 2.88 of these questions correct, a grade that works out to 57.6% -- or F-plus.
And the specifics are even more jarring. When broken down state by state, some states certainly did better than the average, but some states did notably worse. Notably, in Mississippi, test-takers returned an almost 50-50 record of 2.53 correct guesses out of five.
Worse yet, the very most financially literate state in the Union, Utah, still only scored a 3.23 -- a solid D at 64.6%.
So, how'd you do?
So, after answering the five questions above, it's time to answer the question you really want to know -- the question that will interest car-wreck rubberneckers and report card over-shoulder-peekers alike:
Which are the top 10 most financially literate states in the nation and which are the bottom 10.
The 10 states with the "best" scores
- Utah -- 3.23 correct answers out of five
- Montana --3.19
- Wyoming -- 3.18
- Idaho -- 3.16
- Colorado -- 3.13
- New Hampshire -- 3.12
- Alaska and Hawaii -- tied at 3.07
- Iowa -- 3.06
- South Dakota -- 3.05
The 10 states with the worst scores
- Mississippi -- 2.53 correct answers out of five
- Louisiana -- 2.67
- Arkansas -- 2.70
- Ohio -- 2.71
- New York -- 2.72
- Texas -- 2.73
- Kentucky -- 2.73
- South Carolina -- 2.75
- Alabama -- 2.77
- West Virginia -- 2.77
Now...it's time to get serious.
If this is the best our nation can do at graduating financially educated adults -- a solid D for the class president, and an average failing grade for the class as a whole -- maybe it's time we stop grading on the curve. It's time to spend more time teaching our kids the basics of financial education.
Because the next "Great Recession" is always right around the corner -- and right now, Americans are woefully uneducated about how to navigate it.
Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith got a perfect score on FINRA's test.