Visa International polled people in 28 countries on personal-finance topics, and the highest score, only 50.4%, was in Brazil. The U.S. score was fourth-highest. Visa's Jason Alderman warns that wealth and financial literacy are not the same. "Brazil and Mexico [which was second] are emerging economies," Alderman said. "But their people understand the financial fundamentals that many in developed countries do not: You need to save for emergencies and teach your children about money from an early age."

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