Make a Money Mistake? Most of Us Do

If you’ve made some bad financial mistakes lately, you’re not alone. Two out of three Americans adults have, whether we admit it or not. The typical loss? About $5,000.

Survey data analyzed by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and Primerica showed middle class families are not as willing to seek advice and are more risk averse than Americans with incomes above $100,000. Yet, they are confident.

“Considering their past mistakes and the complexity of the financial services marketplace, we were surprised at how highly most middle class Americans rate their ability to make a variety of financial decisions and how infrequently they rely on information from the Internet and publications,” said CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck.

CFA cited the most recent Federal Reserve Board “Survey of Consumer Finances,” which found a typical middle income household had $27,300 in financial assets in 2010, about 28 percent less than in 2007. That included $3900 in checking and/or savings accounts but not property. More than half of these families carried installment debt—typically about $13,500, and almost all from auto loans and student loans, reported the Fed survey. It’s conducted every three years and interviews 6,500 families.

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