Fifty-six percent of consumers selected "improving my credit score" as the personal finance area in which they need the most help, according to the March Financial Literacy Opinion Index hosted on the homepage of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) Web site.
The number is puzzling given NFCC’s recent Financial Literacy Survey found that the majority of adults have neither ordered their credit report or score in the past 12 months.
“In spite of it being free and critical to a person’s financial well-being, Americans remain resistant to ordering their report,” says Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. “What consumers continually fail to understand is that the credit score is based on information contained in the credit report. The process of improving the credit score starts with obtaining the credit report, fully understanding the contents, and acting upon that information. Nonetheless, only 5% of respondents indicated they needed help understanding their credit report.”
Looking at other areas of the poll, 23% admitted they need help “controlling their spending,” but only 11% of those weighing in selected “knowing how to save money” as their main concern. Only 5% indicated they needed assistance planning for retirement.
This result could suggest that consumers feel adequately prepared to make sound decisions related to retirement. However, retirement planning often takes a back seat to other seemingly more pressing financial concerns, putting many into a position of having to play catch-up as they approach retirement age.
The actual survey question and responses were as follows:
Regarding personal finance, I could use the most help in the area of
A. Knowing how to save money = 11%
B. Improving my credit score = 56%
C. Taking control of my spending = 23%
D. Planning for retirement = 5%
E. Understanding my credit report = 5%
The NFCC’s March Financial Literacy Opinion Index was answered by 1,164 individuals.