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Financial Literacy - Financial tuneup
National poll results
Americans admit there's a lot to be confused about in investment matters.
Investment tuneup

Half of Americans say investing is confusing

The fee fiasco
Fees can make a huge difference in return and yet only a third (29 percent) of respondents claim to know what they are paying in fees.

What are you paying in fees?

Bogle calls this result "pathetic," yet doesn't believe the true number is even that high.

Pallaria agrees: "Fees are often the most misunderstood part of investment. I am willing to bet that of the 29 percent of those that 'know exactly' what they are paying, maybe only 50 percent of those people actually do since there are so many different fees in the marketplace. And the 31 percent that have 'no fees' ... well, most investments, particularly mutual funds, have a fee. So there is a large block of people that are misinformed on this topic."

The price of advice
There appear to be big differences in how men and women make investing decisions. While men are much more likely to select their own investments, 41 versus 25 percent, women are more likely to turn to other sources. Nearly a third of women (31 percent) enlist the help of a financial adviser versus a quarter of men (25 percent).

Who manages your investments?

But the real difference is who listens to family or friends. Women are nearly twice as willing as men to make decisions based on personal recommendations (18 percent versus 10 percent).

Munnell says investing style differences are caused by other variables. "Again, my hunch is that these results would vary by marital status, with single women looking very much like married men."

There's nothing inherently wrong with listening to the advice of family members, says Pallaria. In fact, it's completely understandable -- just exercise some caution.

-- Posted: Oct. 22, 2007
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