Financial Literacy - Families and Finance
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Poll: 92% say home is a good investment

Stocks alluring to educated, affluent

Though 49 percent of the overall population says stocks offer the best chance at good long-term returns, 61 percent of college graduates have greater conviction in the market. Among older Americans, only 39 percent of those over 65 believe in it, versus 48 percent of youthful Americans, ages 18 to 29.

The aversion to stocks by retirement-age folks is understandable, given stock volatility. But it's too bad the young feel that way because with a very long time to invest, they can most benefit from the stock market.

"That is the group that has the most potential and time to do investing. Their investing experience has probably been mostly negative," says Lynn Mayabb, senior managing adviser at BKD Wealth Advisors in Kansas City, Mo. "That's the only experience they have to go from: 'I put money in the stock market and it went down.' They haven't seen the positive side of stocks yet."

Stocks and stock funds offer the best chance for good long-term returns
Agree – Strongly or somewhat

D'Italia agrees.

"We tend to lose sight of our historical perspectives that stocks have performed very well for the past 85 years relative to all other asset classes. Sometimes the patience isn't there when it comes to investing," he says.

Higher earners are also more likely to trust the stock market to deliver good long-term returns. Sixty percent of those earning $75,000 or more trust the stock market, versus 43 percent of those earning under $30,000.

"The high-income earners and the highly educated understand the way you make money on equities is holding them for a long period of time," says Gary Gilgen, a Certified Financial Planner at Rehmann Financial in Troy, Mich.

If you were planning to marry someone and later found out that they had a lot of debt and bad credit, would you delay or change your marriage plans or not?
Yes, would change

Marriage and family finances

People want to protect what they have and are skittish of those who might threaten their financial security. Because of that, debt could easily kill romance, according to Bankrate's survey.

Americans report that they're leery of tying the knot with a partner who has lots of debt and bad credit.

Overall, 60 percent of those polled say they would change or delay their marriage plans if they found out their intended had substantial debt and bad credit. More women than men would consider this a deal breaker -- 69 percent versus 51 percent for men.

Women probably want security, Gilgen says.

"Women are built so cool and differently. Their No. 1 thing is family security. Debt problems would threaten that security," he says.

People over 50 years old overwhelmingly agree that they would avoid getting involved with a debt-ridden partner with bad credit. Seventy-two percent say they would run the other way as opposed to 45 percent of those in the 18 to 29 age category.

Many young people are saddled with college loans at that age, so their expectations may be different than someone gearing up for retirement in 10 or 15 years.

Age or generational mores impacted family-related questions as well.

Nearly nine out of 10 people (87 percent) in the 18-to-29 age group are in favor of putting off having children until they've established a career.

The majority of Americans (57 percent) say credit cards are useful tools for most consumers. But four out of 10 disagree.

People over 50 are somewhat split on the priority of career over family life, with just 58 percent saying they would postpone having children for their career if they were young.

And even if they're willing to put off starting a family temporarily, the majority of people -- 67 percent -- wouldn't forgo having children altogether because of the economic impact on the household. But 30 percent say they would.

"Basically, it looks like people are willing to put off children but not, not have them," says D'Italia.

"You're not seeing a lot of people having a bunch of kids when they're 21. They're waiting until they're older. That just seems to be where the mainstream is going," he says.

Most Americans want kids and careers. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Americans say they would pay for pricey day care in order to keep working.

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