Before we look at some past and current personal finance statistics, which have and continue to convince me that we have a “National Epidemic of Financial Illiteracy," I want to congratulate those retired Americans, who are on Social Security, on your raise for 2017. As I write this column, the exact percentage is still to be made official, but it is estimated to be between 0.02 and 0.05 percent. So if your monthly benefit is $2,400, your increase could be between $4.80 and $12 per month. It is certainly better than last year, when there was no increase, but it won’t go very far for many Americans, especially those who rely on Social Security as their only or primary retirement income.

I hope that at some point down the line Congress and the President will act, and not make a liar out of me, as I continue to tell high school and college students, who believe that they will never see Social Security retirement benefits, that they will. I tell them that the system is very fixable, but that it will require some political will, and that some Americans will no doubt have to pay more taxes — probably them, if they work hard, have a good job and pay taxes.

Now I want to look at some of those scary personal finance statistics. By the way, the statistic, that propelled me into the schools in 1997, was that bankruptcies had increased 96 percent for young people between 18 and 25. Before that, let’s be clear, that, like all statistics, they can be misleading, unless you really dig into them. However, they can still make you shake your head at times. Hopefully, they will also confirm that we still have a lot of financial illiteracy in this country. Also, perhaps, they can convince a lot of Americans that they and their family members should do some things to make sure that they improve their Financial IQ’s.

As regular readers of this column know, National Public Radio referred to the CARE National Financial Literacy Program, which I founded, as “a scared straight credit program for students.” Well, for the record, many of these past and current statistics, some of which we have mentioned in this column, scare me straight, and keep me in the schools talking to young people. I even have a regular reader who sends me scary statistics that she sees in other publications.

Here are some statistics to think about from a recent marketwatch.com piece, a montycampbell.com piece, and some other websites.

First, too many Americans still don’t have adequate emergency savings, despite the seemingly constant coverage of this by all of the media. Most Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, and 46 percent of adults, responding to a Federal Reserve survey, said that they could not cover an emergency expense of $400 without selling something or borrowing money. Not surprisingly, 38 percent of those individuals said that they would put it on a credit card and pay it off over time.

That is why I say to students, and everyone, frankly, that you need, at all times, to have an adequate “for your circumstances in life” emergency savings account, as well as savings for anticipated expenses, like that 25-year-old refrigerator that will go soon. If you do that, and only charge things on your credit card that you can pay for at that moment, including that emergency and anticipated expense, you should be able to pay your balance off every month on time, and avoid all of that interest and perhaps some fees. If you have an emergency or anticipated expense that you have to dip into you savings to pay, the first thing you have to do is to replenish that account, which may mean that you have to cut back on some spending in other areas.

Second, according to NerdWallet, in 2015 the average American household consumer debt was $130,000. It included averages of $15,762 in credit card debt, $168,614 in mortgage debt, $27,141 in auto loan debt, and $48,172 in student loan debt. Of course these are only averages among households actually carrying that kind of debt, but it is a good opportunity to evaluate where your household stands. It also gives me the change to once again reinforce three important lessons that I talk about in the schools when it comes to debt.

First, the only good debt is debt that you can afford to repay, and have a plan to repay. I have seen too many people ruin their lives with mortgage, auto and student loan debt that they could not afford, so these are NOT per se “good debt," like too many Americans believe.

Second, since most Americans are just consumers, not businesses that make a profit and can pass on any interest they pay on their loans to their customers, every dollar that they pay in interest is a dollar lost forever. As a result, they should do everything possible to minimize the number of interest dollars they pay, whether they are mortgage, credit card, auto, or student loans.

Third, debt is a bet that you will have the income in the future to repay it, so always take it seriously, and make it a good and informed bet.

Next, more shocking statistics.

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program.