Investing legend and Vanguard Group founder John C. “Jack” Bogle died this week at the age of 89. While his personal fortune was valued at a whopping $80 million and “he regularly gave half his salary to charities,” the New York Times reports, he wished he had done one thing differently.
“My only regret about money,” Bogle said in 2012, per the Times, “is that I don’t have more to give away.”
Much of his giving went to the educational institutions “that shaped his character, notably Blair Academy and Princeton University,” according to his obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was a scholarship student at both schools, and his generosity as an alum “far outstripped his legendary frugality.”
Bogle was born in 1929, and he learned a great deal from the way his family weathered financial hardship during the Great Depression.
“They were tough times and I started working when I was 10 years old, delivering papers and eventually becoming a waiter,” he said in 2012. “I learned you work for what you get, and I feel sorry for people who haven’t had that upbringing.”
Though it was difficult that his family “lived with uncertainty,” he said in a 2014 interview with The Sacramento Bee, it also taught him the value of hard work: “You learn at a very young age, you’d better roll up your sleeves.”
Not everyone has the kind of background that imparts key lessons about money, however. In fact, though many people feel good about their financial health, the realities for most Americans are more complicated.
Last year, the National Financial Educators Council created a 30-question financial literacy quiz to test young adults’ ability to earn, save and grow their finances. Of the nearly 25,000 participants, less than half passed. The average score was 64 percent.
Likewise, a 2017 survey by financial-services company Financial Engines found that 47 percent feel more secure about their finances today than they did five years ago. When Financial Engines gave the same survey respondents an 11-question financial literacy quiz, however, only 6 percent passed.