Hispanic Personal Finances: Financial Literacy and Decision Making among College-Educated Hispanics

May 2015
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Difficulty covering basic expenses and costly economic practices put many college-educated Hispanics in a fragile financial state.


As their population size and purchasing power expand, Hispanics are increasingly important for the U.S. economy. They represent a distinctive demographic that is younger than the general population, changing rapidly, and marked by a unique set of challenges. They’re also becoming better educated. In the last 40 years, the number of Hispanics who have earned associates and bachelor’s degrees has grown six fold and seven fold, respectively. To gain insights into the financial needs and capabilities of college-educated Hispanics—i.e., those who report at least some college education—the authors of this paper analyze how college-educated Hispanics manage their financial resources and make financial decisions.

Key Insights
Nearly one-half of college-educated Hispanics feel they have taken on too much debt; by contrast, 40% of college-educated non-Hispanic whites feel this way. Moreover, 59% say it is somewhat or very difficult to pay their bills each month.
Many college-educated Hispanics appear ill-equipped to handle unanticipated expenses. Only 30% are certain they could come up with $2,000 for an unexpected need, compared to 50% of college-educated non-Hispanic whites.
Despite their financial challenges, most college-educated Hispanics believe they can handle day-to-day financial matters. Yet when asked five questions measuring basic financial concepts, only 12% were able to answer all five correctly.

This report analyzes data from the 2012 National Financial Capability Study—a nationwide survey of 25,000 American adults—to examine the personal finances of 1,553 survey respondents who described their ethnicity as Hispanic and reported at least some college education.