The other day when I logged into my checking account, I was, to say the least, more than mildly surprised when I discovered that my available balance was $1.52.

No, that is not a misprint.

I don't know why that meager amount appeared somehow worse than being hundreds of dollars overdrawn, but it did get me to wonder about the direction of my cash flow and my financial literacy quotient even temporarily. Either that or my calculator needed new batteries.

I'm truly hoping it was the latter.

And, according to the results from a recent survey conducted by The FINRA Investor Education Foundation that gauged the financial capabilities of residents of all 50 states, I should know better.

Citizens of New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire according to the FINRA poll, are the most financially capable. The troika ranked in the top five among all states in at least three of five metrics of financial literacy deployed in the FINRA survey.

Conversely, Kentucky and Montana ranked at the bottom. 

The State-by-State Financial Capability Survey, found at www.usfinancialcapability.org, which surveyed more than 28,000 respondents, was developed in conjunction with the Treasury Department and the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy.

Though some results were hardly surprising, such as the fact that younger Americans were less financially savvy than their elders and were "significantly" more likely to engage in non-bank borrowing, it found that more than half of those polled were living paycheck to paycheck and some 60 percent had no "rainy day" fund for financial emergencies.

If nothing else, the findings should spotlight the critical importance of state and local financial literacy programs and, of course, engineering multi-platform access to them. Ideally, financial literacy should begin far in advance of college graduates seeking their first job when many of them will be exposed to retirement plan enrollment and food and rental budgets for the first time.

And many state CPA societies such as in California, Virginia and the above-mentioned New Jersey (please forgive me if I've overlooked some), as well as the AICPA's 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy, have been proactive in financial educational initiatives.

Trust me, discovering a balance of $1.52 in your checking account is not something one ever gets used to.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access