“People with 140 IQ scores (a score of 100 is average) missed payments and maxed-out their credit cards more often than their lower IQ counterparts,” according to a study comparing smarts to wealth. [USA Today]


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  1. Maurs says:

    Building a flux capacitor requires a lot of cash, man.

  2. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    no… we have more important things to worry about (in our own minds), we think of these nifty little workarounds (we’re trying to fool the pros at their own game), we’re like, Aspergers, you know (if we are), or we hate being bothered by little stupid crap (as we see it).

  3. Cowboys_fan says:

    I always wondered why I wasn’t rich, now I know :p
    I think it is quite sad if the average IQ is in fact only 100. I used to make fun of kids who scored that low.
    I think smarter people refuse to “play the game”, or to a much lesser degree. I know the only real way to get rich, (aside from lottery/mommy & daddy) is be an a-hole and backstab people, and I won’t do that. I’d rather be poor and moral than a rich jerk. Maybe the answer is knowing the difference between right and wrong, which doesn’t mean knowing legal from illegal.

  4. Maurs says:

    @Cowboys_fan: The average IQ would be 100 even if the world were full of nuclear physicists, since 100 is by definition the average IQ. The IQ scale is a relative, bell curve based score. A lesser man would append a sarcastic “genius” to this explanation, but I am a gentleman.

  5. alicetheowl says:

    @Cowboys_fan: Er . . . You realize it’s a formula (MA/CA x 100) based on average intelligence at a given age, right? So the average person SHOULD score 100. The vast majority of people fall between 80 and 120.

    If more people start scoring 110 and bring the average up, they need to adjust the test, because they’ve obviously miscalculated the average mental age, for that age group.

  6. Crazytree says:

    140 is very high… significanly higher than MENSA.

    I think people that smart get manic and do shit like blow a lot of money on a monthlong tear.

  7. polarogak says:

    Because getting rich involves doing a lot of things that bore smart people?

  8. CumaeanSibyl says:

    At risk of being labeled a horrendous nerd, I’m going to bring up character creation in Dungeons and Dragons — namely, that “intelligence” and “wisdom” are two different, independently determined statistics. A high INT score is equivalent to a high IQ, whereas a high WIS score is equivalent to having the sense not to max out your credit cards — and one definitely does not imply the other.

    It’s geeky as hell, I know, but it’s a good way of remembering that intellect and sense don’t correlate.

  9. Ghede says:

    Don’t forget the third possibility they mention in the article.

    They remember their mistakes and answer surveys more accurately. That is why I hate surveys. Too much depends on the participant’s memory and self-delusion.

  10. etinterrapax says:

    I’m going to go with the theory that smart people bore more easily and spend money fighting that. Or they have expensive hobbies.

  11. queen_elvis says:

    The horrendous nerd has an excellent point. In fact, our culture outright stereotypes the very intelligent as street-dumb, and for good reason IME.

  12. timmus says:

    Maybe high IQ equates to an isolated childhood, which means the lack of social grease to ease into the good-old-boy network. I think a lot of high-IQ folks make it there just fine but it probably requires having a lot of siblings, thus forcing the social grease. That’s my pet theory.

  13. no.no.notorious says:

    the type of person with a high IQ probably spends a lot of their money going to the theater and traveling.

  14. jeffeb3 says:

    maybe the 140 IQer (engineer) starts a company making something expecting to make it big and only later realizes that running a business takes more than intelligence. Also, I bet people are looking out for peopl with 60 IQs the probably can’t even write a check at that mental capacity…

  15. catchthefever says:

    I should ask my ex-BF the same question.

  16. Mr. Gunn says:

    I like the maxing out their cards trying to get their business off the ground explanation.

  17. sardonicbastard says:

    I dovetail in nicely with those stats… I think a lot of it has to do with the “absent-minded professor” kind of personality. I’ve missed a bunch of credit card payments, but it was not due to lack of money… it was just plain forgetting.

  18. cde says:

    Einstein was a genius, yet he developed the atomic bomb. High IQ != good common sense. Then again, common sense ain’t so common.

  19. nardo218 says:


  20. floofy says:

    My stepfather is a very intelligent judge. However, I think people who have high IQ’s lack a lot of common sense. Doesn’t seem like you can be very intelligent without having pretty major shortcomings somewhere else. Case in point: My stepfather lacks such common sense that he buys a new car, and never changes the oil in it, thus blowing the engine up at abt 40,000 miles.

  21. infinitysnake says:

    @polarogak: I think that’s exactly it.

  22. synergy says:

    Intelligence doesn’t equal common sense. Plus people with high IQs tend to have social issues to boot.

  23. retech says:

    Maybe this demographic of people just doesn’t give a damn? You’re all coming up with these armchair ideas. The fact is that someone with a 140+ IQ just does not care about most of the shit people use to make their life fulfilled with consumerism. Often this is the same group of people who buy groups of clothing that all match and have minimal home decorations just because none of it matters to them. So paying off someone or covering a bill on time is just meaningless. In the end, they can only hurt your credit score and, if you’re smart, you can always fix that easily.

  24. nan says:

    IQ tests aren’t terribly accurate. I mean, weren’t they first created to measure how dumb people are? You know, not the other way around?

  25. mac-phisto says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: does this mean i get a +2 wisdom modifier every time i pay my bill on time?

  26. boandmichele says:

    a high IQ does not necessarily mean common sense. in fact, id almost call them polar opposites.

    it seems to me, from my personal experience, that the farther from average you are, the less common sense you have.

  27. DeeJayQueue says:

    I work among some of the most brilliant people in the country, and half of them can’t figure out velcro shoes.

    I have tested with a pretty high IQ myself, but I was always told never to pay much attention to those, they measured your capacity for learning, not what you already knew.

    I’ve always had problems paying bills on time, and I can never explain why.

  28. Stan LS says:

    Uh, the really smart people don’t have time to take these silly surveys.

  29. Steel_Pelican says:

    @cde: It was Oppenheimer who developed the bomb. Einstein wasn’t actively involved.

    @Cowboys_fan: I thought there were alternatives to backstabbing and cheating, like saving, frugality, and careful investment.

    I agree with other posters like nardo218 and Ghede, that there could be some sample error here, and that this statistic doesn’t mean that a high IQ makes you a credit risk. All this statistic tells us is that people with a high IQ are more likely to report credit errors on surveys.

    Another question that I didn’t see answered in the original USA Today article: Did the survey ask the respondents to self-report their IQ score, or were they tested before the survey? If they self-reported, then all the statistic tells us is that people who claim to have high IQ’s on surveys also claim to make credit mistakes on surveys.

  30. gibsonic says:

    who knew consumerist was so full of geniuses!?!

  31. Chaosium says:

    @alicetheowl: One definite problem is that too many people rely on unreliable tests, or think that childhood tests would still apply today.

  32. enm4r says:

    The answers in here are quite humorous. High IQs have nothing to do with common sense, either positively or negatively. Just as many people with a high IQ have absolutely no common sense as a low IQ.

    Also, as mentioned above, if these are self reported IQ stats, they’re hardly to be relied upon. If you truly want to test the higher IQ ranges, you have to start taking tailored tests that cater to that crowd. (They can be quite challenging, with even high IQs missing half or more questions.)

    I’ve tested high enough to be included on the survey, and I’ve probably maxed my card more than average, but that’s because I never pay with check/debit, and I’ve purchased many big ticket items at/around the same time. Does “maxing” your card include when you pay it off a month or two later, which means you had the cash to begin with but use credit 100% of the time?

  33. Saboth says:

    Smart people tend to be more depressed. It’s a fact. Depressed people are probably more likely to try and find things to cheer them up…spending lots of money, overeating, etc. It doesn’t have anything to do with common sense.

  34. retech says:

    @Saboth: And I’m sure thinking like this keeps you an even 80.

  35. gibsonic says:

    i think a lot of people think they are smarter than they really are.

    you know you are smart when people who you think are a lot smarter than you genuinely tell you how smart you are…relatives don’t count. If they did everyone would be a friggin Einstein!

    everyone is naturally biased to themselves…anyone with any shred of self confidence that is.

  36. mst3kzz says:

    Read about Paul Erdös. Brilliant, prolific mathematician, but I never would have trusted him to pay his CC bill on time.

  37. @nan: “I mean, weren’t they first created to measure how dumb people are?”

    One of the major contributors to the US tradition/types of IQ tests was a pair of US army tests used during WWI, one for the barely or loosely literate, one (entirely in pictures) for the totally illiterate, to measure whether you were intelligent enough to follow basic military commands.

    IOW, IQ measures your ability to be cannon fodder. Way to go, 140s! You make super-special cannon fodder!

  38. anatak says:

    Personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. So you see why the high IQ isn’t helping so much here.

  39. forever_knight says:

    it’s interesting to read all these posts tearing 140IQs down while building themselves up (“they have social issues” “they are manic and spends lots” etc). no need to feel insecure, Consumerist readers!

    since you pay all your bills on time, does that mean you are sub 70IQ?

  40. AbstractConcept says:

    Well maybe it just worked out this way becausepeople with higher IQ’s have the money to let things like this happen.. Not smart, but it would make sense.. More money, more cards, more careless?

  41. @forever_knight: I don’t have a problem with people with 140+ IQs (that would be self-defeating), but rather with people with high IQs with disdain for the unwashed masses, or for other types of intelligence, or for basically everyone else except themselves. Of course the same attitude functions among many kinds of elites (many gifted athletes are absolute assholes about being gifted athletes), but I personally function in a world where I most often see high-IQ assholes and they REALLY BOTHER ME.

    This is veering quite a ways off topic, but what bothers me the most and I swear I see it all the time is people with high IQs who drive recklessly (or just illegally), get ticketed, and complain that the cop is “dumb” so they didn’t deserve the ticket. Yes, yes, Raskolnikov, laws don’t apply to you because you are special.

    The other one that drives me batshit is the ones who complain that they can’t get ahead in life because nobody appreciates their intelligence. Usually what’s actually happening is that since they spent 17+ years in school in an atmosphere where they excelled without effort, they are lazy as shit and can’t be bothered to work at work. I have sympathy for being thrown out of the comfy confines of academia where you know all the rules and do well without trying into the relatively horrifying (and frequently non-merit-rewarding) world of “real work.” I don’t have sympathy for laziness complaining it’s misunderstood. No, we all get it: you’re lazy.

    People who spend a lot of time bragging about their IQs always make me think of the story of the lizard who kept bragging his grandfather was a dinosaur, and his listener decides not to make fun of him for it because, “After all, it’s all he has to be proud of.” If you’re so smart, DO something with your life, don’t just TELL everyone how smart you are!

    Okay, /rant. I feel better now.

  42. Framling says:

    Haha, yes! Best Batman episode title EVER!

  43. alicetheowl says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Your comment wins, just for the Crime & Punishment reference.

    Yes, IQ tests were initially to test military recruits, and later perverted by the educational system to justify leaving behind the “dumb” kids. IQ tests have also been used in attempts to justify eugenics, as have most previous methods of testing intelligence. IQ tests are flawed, because, despite researchers’ best efforts, there are cultural biases within the tests, and they don’t test real-world, common-sense skills.

    I will state quite openly that I’ve never had an IQ test, that I have one intelligent parent (who tested well on his IQ test), but that I would estimate my own IQ to be squarely in the middle of the “average” column. My husband has tested between 130 and 150. We both suck with finances, but we’re learning. My father, who is the smart one in my family, sucks with money even worse than I do; my mother, who scores a lower IQ than he does, manages the finances and takes care of the everyday details.

  44. bearymore says:

    I’m guessing the article is misrepresenting the study. Every study I’ve ever seen shows income to be linked to education. Education is almost certainly linked to IQ (up to a point). Presumably, after controlling for education, there is only a weak or non-existent link between IQ scores and income. This makes perfect sense and is utterly uninteresting and not at all newsworthy.

  45. scoopy says:

    @Cowboys_fan: For someone who claims to be so smart you sure are stupid

  46. erudition says:

    I’m a member of Mensa (Group 760). I’ve worked in Consumer Debt Collections for about 9 years now.

    I didn’t finish college & I’ve had a ton of debt actually go all the way to charge-off status.

    I have behavior & mental health issues & I can definitely say that personal finance falls about 95% into those categories.