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Financial Planning > College Planning

When It Comes to Finance, the Kids Are Not All Right: Survey

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More than a third of American teenagers do not believe they will be financially independent of their parents by age 30, according to a survey released Wednesday by Junior Achievement USA and Citizens Bank.

The survey found that 74% of teenagers expected to own a car by the time they were 30, but that they had much lower expectations about achieving other key financial milestones. Sixty percent believed they would own a home, 44% that they would begin saving for retirement and 43% that they would have paid off student loans.

“These survey findings show a disconcerting lack of confidence among teens when it comes to achieving financial goals,” Jack Kosakowski, president and chief executive of Junior Achievement USA, said in a statement. “With a strong economy, you would think teens would be more optimistic.”

Wakefield Research conducted the online survey in early March among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. teenagers, 13 to 18 years old, who were not currently enrolled in college.

The survey identified teen respondents’ top financial goals for the future:

  • Getting a full-time job — 62%
  • Graduating from a four-year college — 59%
  • No longer having to rely on parents or caregivers for money — 53%
  • Saving enough money for a big trip or vacation — 41%

Teenagers’ main financial concerns for the future included paying for college, not being able to afford to live on their own, paying taxes and finding a fulfilling, well-paying job.

“It’s clear that more has to be done to help prepare students for the future — whether it is through helping them navigate paying for college or educating them on how to manage their money by establishing savings and checking accounts,” Brendan Coughlin, president of consumer deposits and lending at Citizens Bank, said in the statement.

Other Survey Findings

Sixty-four percent of teenagers in the poll said they sought out their parents or caregivers for financial advice, while 38% said they turned to family members, 30% to friends and 27% to online resources.

Three in five teens who reported making money said they had some sort of bank account. The rest saved their money unbanked, such as in a shoebox or piggy bank.

Among teenage respondents who were currently in school, 40% of female respondents and 34% of males believed they would earn less than $35,000 a year in their first full-time job after high school.

The survey found that 22% of teens earned money in 2019 by working independently, compared with 16% who did so in 2018. Sixty-four percent said they depended on gifts for spending money, while 32% said they received allowances for doing chores.

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