National Financial Capability Study

In consultation with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and President Bush's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation commissioned the first national study of the financial capability of American adults in 2009. The overarching research objectives of the National Financial Capability Study were to benchmark key indicators of financial capability and evaluate how these indicators vary with underlying demographic, behavioral, attitudinal and financial literacy characteristics. The 2012 Study—similarly developed in consultation with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, other federal agencies and President Obama's Advisory Council on Financial Capability—aims to update key measures from the 2009 Study and to deepen exploration of topics that are highly relevant today (e.g., student loans and medical debt).


The 2012 Study reveals interesting changes in key measures of financial capability over the three-year period since the baseline Study was completed, but it also reinforces the original finding that financial capability varies greatly by socio-economic status and other demographics, and that many Americans struggle to make ends meet, plan ahead and make optimal financial decisions.


State-by-State Survey and National Findings


The State-by-State and National findings are available at, which features a clickable map of the United States and allows the public, policymakers and researchers to delve into and compare the financial capabilities of Americans across all 50 states and the nation as a whole.


Military Survey


Military personnel and their families face many of the same financial management challenges as civilians. However, being in the military also involves unique circumstances and stresses that can make financial management even more difficult: deployments, frequent changes of station and prolonged separation from immediate family. Military personnel must also be vigilant about their credit ratings in order to preserve their security clearances. Fortunately, being in the military also provides advantages that can help individuals and families manage their financial challenges and take advantage of financial opportunities. The Military Survey—available at—illustrates how financial attitudes, behaviors and knowledge vary within the military by a variety of factors, including age, pay grade, service and component.