Take this Quiz: Financial Success is not About 'Money Smarts'

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — First off, to determine your "financial health," take this quick quiz.

Now that's done, and we bet you were happy to find that it didn't contain any math. That's because new research says that a high degree of "money smarts" doesn't have as much to do with your financial success than your attitude regarding time. Rather than a deep understanding of financial concepts, investment instruments and taxation, we are better served by understanding how our experiences can influence our decisions.

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The study, conducted for Magnify Money by Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University, concludes that just because you "can do the math" doesn't mean that you'll manage money successfully. It's more about your "time personality" -- how you approach your past, present and future.

Zimbardo's "Time Perspective Inventory" (ZTPI) says that people who are "past oriented" are more likely to be financially healthy. In other words, if you base your decisions and actions on memories rather than current experience, you'll tend to be more conservative and take less risk.

"If you lost money in the past, you are less likely to take risk in the future," the study says. "By taking less risk, you can avoid financial ruin." But you can miss out on the financial upside, too.

People that are "present oriented" are likely to be "financially sick," Zimbardo says. "People who impulsively indulge in the present behave like children: They take what they want, when they want it without any thought of future consequences. They are willing to gamble their life savings, spend money they don't have and ignore the consequences of poor financial decisions."

Future-focused individuals are also likely to suffer financial setbacks, according to the study. They are "focused on their careers, and never have enough time in the day for their friends, family or even themselves," Zimbardo says. "Future-oriented people want to be financially literate and plan for the future. However, without the right information (or with the wrong advice), bad investments or excessively expensive insurance can be purchased."

The research also revealed that while Millennials think they are less financially literate, they generally had a higher financial health than Baby Boomers. From a global view, people in the U.K. and Germany had the highest percentage of financially healthy individuals; the U.S. had an average score. Italy, Hong Kong and Brazil were the least financially healthy.

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet

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