Money is continually coming into our lives and leaving it, but that doesn't mean practice makes perfect.

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Money is continually coming into our lives and leaving it, but that doesn’t mean practice makes perfect.

Surveys show that Americans still have a relatively poor understanding of basic money concepts, what experts call financial literacy.

To heighten awareness, for the past two years President Obama has proclaimed that April is National Financial Literacy Month.

Our lack of money knowledge is not because we’re a bunch of dummies. The financial world has grown increasingly complex — try shopping for a cellphone plan or choosing a mutual fund or understanding a variable annuity.

And we’re responsible for more money decisions.

Previous generations of workers had defined pension plans. That means when they retired, they received a guaranteed pension, and it was a professional money manager’s problem to worry about investing the pension money. Today, most Americans are responsible for their own retirement investing, whether financial markets interest them or not.

We also have more marketing coming at us almost constantly: publications, websites, billboards, television, radio, email. And we have more credit available to us than previous generations, and that provides plenty of opportunity for financial folly.

“Economic times are tough right now, but the struggles most Americans are experiencing [are] providing a teachable moment for us all because there are inevitably downturns that we will face,” said Ted Beck, president and chief executive of the National Endowment for Financial Education.

With the help of money experts and financial literacy organizations, we developed a money quiz that might contribute to your understanding of money topics:

Do your credit scores rise when you get a higher-paying job?

No. Credit-scoring models don’t care whether you’re a millionaire or living paycheck to paycheck. They care only about whether you use credit and use it well. “Your income is not on your credit report, so it’s systematically impossible,” said John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at

Is a household budget meant to restrict your spending?

Not necessarily. It can allow you to free up money to spend on things you care about, even fun things. Budgeting is about telling your money what to do instead of wondering where it went.

Should I pay off highest interest-rate debt first?

It depends. Mathematically, using extra money to pay off high-rate debt, such as credit cards, makes sense. But if you have many different debts, you might get a psychological boost by wiping out smaller debts first.

What is the only official site for getting your credit report?

Don’t be fooled into signing up for a credit-monitoring service to get your report at a different site. You’re entitled to one free report annually from each of the three main credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. They have largely the same information, so if you access one every four months, you can keep regular tabs on your credit. About two-thirds of Americans have not ordered a copy of their credit report, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

If a thief steals your credit card and charges $1,000, you’re responsible for how much?

Federal law says you’re responsible for $50, but most major credit-card issuers absolve you of all liability if it’s a clear case of a stolen card or number.

What is likely to provide the highest returns over time: stocks, bonds or CDs? Historically, stocks have provided the highest returns over long periods, especially if you’re talking about decades. However, most financial advisers suggest a mix of stocks and relatively safer bonds, with the mix getting more bond-heavy as you approach the time you’ll need the money.

Which is more expensive for a family of four: food or financing a new car?

Food costs more, unless you’re talking about an especially pricey car. The American family of four spends about $8,700 on food in a year, or $725 per month, according to the most recent government Consumer Expenditure Survey. That’s far more than most monthly car payments. People will research for months to get a good deal on a car, but many won’t look at a sales flier or clip a few coupons. Small, repeated purchases matter.

How large should your emergency fund be?

Three to six months of bare-bones living expenses, most money experts advise.