If you think about it, you probably see a lot of advertising for products and services for managing your money. Television ads, highway billboards, Internet banner ads, offers in your mailbox, and more.
We decided to find out how much money is spent on advertising to Americans each year for financial products and services. No surprise—it’s a big number. Financial services companies spend about $17 billion each year on marketing. That works out to about $54 a person per year. That doesn’t even count marketing of retirement products, college loans, and investment products.
We also looked at how much money is spent on financial education in America. Again, no surprise—it’s less than the amount spent on marketing. As a nation, we spend only about $670 million dollars on financial education, about $2 a person per year.
Advertising can be helpful and give you important information. By law, it cannot represent a product or service deceptively, but naturally advertisements are biased because they aim to entice you to buy a product. On the other hand, financial education provides more comprehensive and neutral information.
Advertising is intended to attract your attention and persuade. It has to be fresh and new all the time. But the skills and habits that come from financial education can last a lifetime. When you see financial advertising, consider the source. Shop around and ask questions. Ask CFPB is a great place to see unbiased answers to common questions.
You can read the report to learn more about what we found and how we gathered these numbers.