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RISMEDIA, October 18, 2010—Consumers with strong financial knowledge begin saving earlier and are more confident in their everyday financial tasks, according to the TD Bank Financial Literacy Poll recently released by TD Bank. Education at an early age is key to achieving financial confidence. Many consumers doubt their financial skills and believe they were not taught enough at a young age and feel saving money is difficult. TD Bank surveyed 2,160 consumers to better understand the financial literacy and attitudes of consumers in the Northeast, Florida and Mid-Atlantic.

“The poll reveals that it is imperative for parents to act as the primary role model to their children if they want financially successful children,” says Suzanne Poole, executive vice president, retail sales strategy and distribution, TD Bank. “Starting financial literacy lessons early results in adults who are more confident in their money decisions, are more financially literate and are more skilled at saving money.”

Who is your financial role model?
Although this is not an easy question to answer, more than one-quarter of consumers struggled to identify any financial role models. The poll also revealed the primary sources for financial information and help in managing finances.

Forty percent of consumers in the Northeast and 38% in the Washington, D.C. region turn to family members for financial advice; while Warren Buffet and famous financiers often edge ahead of financial advisors. In fact, only about one-quarter of the consumers surveyed have a financial advisor or financial planner.

Consumers with “good” financial literacy started learning about money slightly earlier than the average consumer, but only one-half of consumers started learning or having conversations about money under the age of 18. From those who did start learning about savings at a young age, 77% of New Englanders, 80% of Mid-Atlantic residents and 78% of Floridians say they learned from their parents.

Financial firsts are important to financial literacy confidence and education. Although most polled, about 70%, can remember opening their first bank account, only half can remember their first deposit or investment. However, those with “good” financial literacy, about 57%, could recall their first deposit amount.

“TD Bank believes it is important to not only start having financial conversations at a young age, but to also make those first financial experiences memorable,” said Poole. “More than 22 years ago, we created the WOW!Zone, a free, financial literacy program to help children ages 5-18 develop strong financial skills, in school and online. It is a great tool for parents to use to make learning about money fun.”

Responsibility and budgeting are taking a more prominent place at the dinner table today than when parents were younger. Sixty-two percent of parents versus 77% of children today learned about the importance of money. About 75% of parents are teaching their children about financial responsibility as well as saving, budgeting, the value of money, credit cards, etc., while only about 15% of parents were taught about investments and only about 20% learned how to use a credit card.

Poole added, “Today’s children are not learning about money that differently than their parents did. Parents today are taking primary responsibility in financial education. Parents should ask themselves if they are the financial role model they need to be. Starting young is not the only key to success. We found that the topics parents talk about and creating memorable financial moments matter, too.”

Additional key findings
-About 94% of those polled with “poor” financial literacy skills wished saving money wasn’t so hard versus 65% with “good” skills.

-About 40% of consumers in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Florida with “poor” financial literacy skills are confident in making financial decisions versus 93% with “good” skills.

-About 81% of those surveyed wished they would have started saving earlier, and about 55% of them were definitely not taught when they were young.

-Seventy-one percent of consumers in the New England, Mid-Atlantic and Florida regions are confident in their understanding of everyday financial tasks such as paying bills on time, followed by balancing their checkbook.

-The majority of consumers in the New England, Mid-Atlantic and Florida regions are either extremely confident or very confident in financially preparing their children; consumers responded that responsibility, saving money and budgeting money are the most important topics to teach children today.

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