California Financial Literacy Statistics

The California Financial Educators Council reports data and carries out ongoing research to paint an accurate picture of the current condition of financial wellness across the Golden State. These California-specific financial literacy statistics give researchers, organizations, and concerned citizens data and information to propel the financial education movement forward.

Cost of Financial Illiteracy Survey

Californians report that lack of financial knowledge carries a high cost, according to this 2021 survey. Participants across the state responded to the single question: “During the past year (2021), about how much money do you think you lost because you lacked knowledge about personal finances?” The results are shown below. Interestingly, almost 13% of survey respondents believed they had lost $10,000 or more in the past year due to financial illiteracy.

Cost of Financial Illiteracy

$0 – $499


$500 – $999


$1,000 – $2,499


$2,500 – $9,999


$10,000 +


Research indicates that many Californians are suffering from financial vulnerabilities. For example, although the Golden State produces nearly half of the country’s fruits and vegetables, 1 in 5 California residents experiences food insecurity – almost 8 million Californians struggle to put food on the table.

Housing insecurity stands at a similar level in the state – 20% of Californians face housing insecurity today, according to recent studies. Housing insecurity is defined as lack of security in one’s shelter as a result of high housing costs relative to income, poor housing quality, unstable neighborhoods, overcrowding, and/or homelessness.

Food and Housing Insecurity in California

Financial Situation Data

Debt Load Rates

$67,724 Average California Consumer Debt (credit card, auto & student loan debt)

Californians’ credit card balances averaged $6,729 (2020), according to Eperian, the credit rating agency. The average Californian had an auto loan balance of $19,713 (2020, Experian) and outstanding student loan balances totaling $21,382 (2020, Lending Tree). At the end of 2020, Experian reported that Californians owed $371,981 on their homes. These figures were reported by

Average California Consumer Debt

Personal Credit Score

The Experian 2020 Consumer Credit Review reported an average FICO® score of 716 among Californians (2020), with a national average score of 710. This score ranks Californians exactly in the middle of all states and Washington D.C. in 2020.

According to a WalletHub article, 5 California cities had median credit scores in the top 16 of 2572 U.S. cities they reviewed.

Average California Credit Score
Median Credit Scores Among Major California Cities

California Financial Literacy Legislation & Educational Stats

The Common Core of Data (CCD), a program of the National Center for Education Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education, found that California had 10,381 total public schools in 2019-20, compared with the U.S. average of 1,948. At that time, the Golden State also had 6.16 million students (994,512 national average) and 271,805 full-time total teachers (62,709 average). The state’s student-to-teacher ratio was higher than the national average at 22.67 (15.41 average).

In 2016 California adopted legislation to recognize April as Financial Literacy Month and that all “entities should be encouraged to provide all Californians with the opportunity to obtain or improve their financial literacy skills” ( The state legislature is currently deliberating on bills to better support financial literacy, encourage credit repair, and help citizens with developmental disabilities to improve their financial capabilities.