Time and Money:
MagnifyMoney.com and Philip Zimbardo Release Groundbreaking Study

Being financially healthy depends more on your approach to time, rather than your ability to calculate compounding interest. Just because you think you are financially literate, does not mean you will be financially healthy.


Historically, people believed financial literacy correlated directly with financial health. Financial literacy courses often cover the math associated with money and basic product knowledge. However, the results of this survey show your time perspective impacts how you make financial decisions. Understanding your time perspective is an important foundation for financial health and should be included in financial literacy training. Below are some of the results:

Financialy Literacy & Age

Millennials think they are less financially literate, but demonstrate better financial health than baby boomers.

Location & Financial Health

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  • The United States has room for improvement

    The US was in the middle of the pack. 33% of the population demonstrated a high degree of financial health. Although better than Brazil (which came in last at 14%), we are still a long way behind the UK, which clocked in at 52%.

  • Well done, UK. You were top of the financial health table, and you knew it.

    52% of the UK population scored high in financial health. As a nation, they are one of the biggest memory hoarders. Living in the past means you are less likely to take crazy risks and more likely to avoid bankruptcy. The UK also shows a high level of confidence, with more people self-rating as highly literate than any other country.

  • Germany: a modest, healthy nation!

    We asked how financially literate do you think you are? No one scored themselves lower than Germany. But there was no reason for that. When we looked at financial health, Germany finished second in the world (at 41%), behind only the UK - and well ahead of Brazil.

  • Hong Kong: Taking risk can be damaging to your financial health!

    Hong Kong has the highest level of present fatalism in the survey. A belief that fate controls your life often leads to excessive risk-taking and gambling. Those risks and gambles gave Hong Kong the highest % of financially sick (7.9%) in the study. And they had one of the lowest percentages of financially healthy (17%) in the study, just ahead of Brazil.

  • Brazil: the least financially healthy country surveyed

    Only 14% of Brazilians demonstrated a high level of financial health, the lowest in the study. A high level of present hedonism in the country is certainly a contributing factor.

  • Sicily: Off-the-chart present hedonism. And very low financial health.

    Sicilian culture is known for enjoying family, food, wine and the Sicilian sun. The high present hedonism is a reflection of that. Unfortunately, present hedonism does not always lead to the most financially healthy lifestyle, which the report shows, as only 18% of Sicilians are financially healthy.

financial literacy & Financial health

Being an A+ math student or financially literate doesn’t necessarily equal a higher degree of financial health.

Time perspective & financial literacy

There is a direct link between people’s approach to time and their financial health.

Memory Hoarders or Past Negatives: people who are stuck in the past are more likely to be financially healthy.

These people base their decisions and actions on memories rather than current experience. They tend to be more conservative and take less risk. They will be less likely to go bankrupt or experience foreclosure, but more likely to have missed out on stock market appreciation.

The Past
Memory Hoarders

Holding on to the past

One way to be stuck in the past is to be ‘past positive’ (like, say, reliving your high school days over… and over… ).

Hedonists: people who impulsively indulge (stuck in the present) are more likely to be financially sick.

These hedonists take what they want, when they want, without any thought of future consequences. They grab candy at the checkout line, are more likely to partake in risky behaviors, and buy drinks for everyone in the bar, even if it puts them in debt.

The Present

Life of the party

A great example of hedonism is buying drinks for everyone in the bar, even when you don’t have the money to do so.

Future Proofers: future focused people have a great self-perception of their financial literacy, but not really financial health

These obsessive planners want to be financially literate and plan for the future, but are more likely to make bad investments or buy excessively expensive insurance when they’re given misinformation or wrong advice.

The Future
Future Proofer

Never ending to-do lists

Many millennials in college are future proofers — studying all night to get ahead while sacrificing other aspects of their lives.


The study was conducted, under the direction of Philip Zimbardo, in 6 countries: the USA, Brazil, the UK, Germany, Italy (Sicily) and China (Hong Kong). A statistically significant sample in each country was given: