Does U.S. Need Secretary Of Personal Finance?

Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” book illustrated the importance of financial literacy and exposed the low level of financial literacy in the US.

While Office of Financial Education was created in 2002 in the US with the objective to improve on the financial literacy, Nathan Dungan argued that it has not shown results

He wrote in KCCI.com Money column:

A few weeks ago, I was flying back to Minnesota, my home state, after doing a workshop for a large community organization and the thought hit me — we need a secretary of personal finance.

Now before you dismiss the idea as being too “out there” or “too redundant” — don’t we already have a Department of the Treasury? — please indulge me while I make the case.

As it currently stands, the Department of the Treasury does oversee the Office of Financial Education, created in 2002, and according to the Department of Treasury Web site, claims to do the following:
 
“The Office of Financial Education works to promote access to the financial education tools that can help all Americans make wiser choices in all areas of personal financial management, with a special emphasis on saving, credit management, home ownership and retirement planning. The Office also coordinates the efforts to improve financial literacy and education for people throughout the United States.”

With all due respect to the fine people who work in the Office of Financial Education, the status quo isn’t working.

Here are four quick reasons for my criticism:

Our personal savings rate went negative in 2005 for the first time since 1933. The current savings rate for young adults 25 to 34 is negative 6 percent.
Our personal credit management in this country is abysmal and getting worse. The average credit card debt per household in the U.S. is $9,000 — an increase of 167 percent from 1990 to 2005.
While 69 percent of American households own their home, they increasingly use their accrued equity to pay off credit cards and finance other consumer purchases.
A stunning 75 percent of all U.S. workers have saved less than $100,000 for retirement.

We have Cabinet-level positions for energy, transportation, education and labor, why not personal finance? After all, 70 percent of our total economy is dependent on consumer spending. Our economy won’t keep growing if we don’t ensure the financial health of all our citizens.

Now more than ever we need to acknowledge the need and recognize the urgency this issue has for all Americans. It’s time we give it the prominence it deserves by naming a secretary of personal finance.