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Daily headlines report the mismanagement of public finances by the government, but fewer headlines give an accurate presentation of the state of personal finance in America.

While our country has been operating without an approved spending plan for years, it seems that most American households also operate without a budget. College graduates, families with incomes over $75,000 and people who identify as politically conservative are slightly more likely to prepare a regular budget, but over two-thirds of all Americans in a recent poll report that they fail to make a financial plan for handling household money.

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Dollars and Sense: How Wise Are We With Money?
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A few bright spots that may herald a financial recovery, for some at least, include a drop in the number of Americans who report spending less than the previous year. The percentage of people who say they spent less than in the previous year peaked in 2009, the height of the recent recession, and has been dropping lower in each successive year since.

Fewer Americans also report paying bills late. In 2012, approximately one-third of Americans polled admitted to being late on bills, while just one year later, only one-fourth of Americans faced the same problem. Although the overall picture may be improving, many people still report feeling stressed over money issues to the point of gaining weight or not sleeping, with a lack of emergency savings mentioned as a major stressor by over 40 percent of poll respondents.

Problems handling money in adulthood might stem from a lack of financial training for teenagers. It seems that many teens, who should be learning to manage money while still living at home, are often not being taught the finer points of basic finances. While one-third of teens have a summer job, only 20 percent have their own checking account and only 10 percent are included in household budget meetings and family bill-paying discussions. However, surprisingly, over three-fourths of teens have an interest in learning about budgeting and over two-thirds would like more advice and information about investing.

Only three states, Tennessee, Utah and Missouri, require a course in financial education for all high-schoolers. Perhaps with more financial training both at home and at school, the adults of tomorrow might become better at managing their hard-earned money.

Golden Financial Services recently published a comprehensive summary that provides parents with tips on how to financially educate their children and teens.

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