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Super Bowl MVP tackles financial illiteracy

By Jason Alderman

Drew Brees' list of accomplishments is long and impressive: New Orleans Saints quarterback. Super Bowl XLIV MVP. Devoted family man. And now, financial literacy champion.

Brees cites a personal experience for opening his eyes to the importance of money management.

"In my NFL rookie season, I applied for my first mortgage and during the process learned that an unpaid cell phone bill from my junior year in college had negatively affected my credit score," Brees told me. "Fortunately I was still able to secure the loan, but at a much higher interest rate than if I'd had a good credit score. It frustrates me to this day that I didn't understand the importance of my credit score at the time I made those poor financial decisions."

Brees began channeling that frustration by taking a more active role in combating youth financial illiteracy. The statistics he cites are troubling:

  • The average high school senior can answer only about half of basic financial knowledge questions correctly.
  • Although 93 percent of Americans believe all high school students should be required to take a financial education class, only four states require at least a semester-long course in personal finances.
  • Only four in 10 adults understand how to properly calculate how much they'll need to reach their retirement savings goals. Yet for most average earners, Social Security will replace only about 40 percent of pre-retirement earnings.
  • More than one in 10 Americans don't use banks at all, despite the financial advantages they provide.

As you might expect, Brees is taking action. He visits high schools around the country, sharing personal stories, answering student questions and quarterbacking group competitions in Financial Football, an interactive video game jointly developed by the National Football League and Visa Inc.

Financial Football combines the NFL's structure and rules with hundreds of questions of varying difficulty designed to test students' financial knowledge. To move the ball down the field and score points, players must answer a series of money management questions correctly. Wrong answers cost yardage or loss of the ball.

Brees himself contributed numerous questions for the latest version just released. See whether you can answer the following correctly:

1. Negative financial information (excluding bankruptcy) can stay on your credit report for:

  1. 2 years
  2. 5 years
  3. 7 years
  4. 10 years

2. Which of the following will NOT damage your credit score?

  1. Defaulting on a student loan
  2. Checking your own credit score
  3. Home foreclosure
  4. Carrying a credit card balance equal to your spending limit

3. Which are the two most important factors when determining someone's creditworthiness?

  1. Payment history and amounts owed
  2. Length of credit history and amounts owed
  3. Types of credit they currently use and payment history
  4. Number of credit inquiries made and amounts owed

Teachers can download free lesson modules for three age levels to incorporate the game into their classroom curriculum. You can download Financial Football as a free iTunes application playable on your iPhone or iPad, or play it online at – all in English or Spanish versions.

By the way, the correct answers to the questions above are: 1 (c), 2 (b) and 3 (a). How many yards did you gain?

This article is intended to provide general information and should not be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.

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