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Teens Have Low Expectations Re: Finances

Published Wednesday Apr 10, 2019

Teens Have Low Expectations Re: Finances

A new national survey by Junior Achievement USA and Citizens Bank shows that more than 30 percent of teens do not believe they will be financially independent of their parents by the age of 30.

While the survey found that 74 percent of respondents believe they will own a car by the time they are 30, the numbers around other key financial milestones are much lower, with 60 percent believing they will own a home, 44 percent believing they will begin saving for retirement and 43 percent believing they will have paid off student loans. The survey of 1,000 US teens ages 13-18, who are not currently enrolled in college was conducted by Wakefield Research.

“These survey findings show a disconcerting lack of confidence among teens when it comes to achieving financial goals,” says Jack Kosakowski, President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “With a strong economy, you would think teens would be more optimistic. It just demonstrates the importance of working with young people to help them better understand financial concepts and gain confidence in their ability to manage their financial futures.”

The survey also found that most teens’ top financial goal for the future is getting a full-time job (62 percent).

Other financial goals included:

  • graduating from a 4-year college (59 percent),
  • no longer having to rely on parents or caregivers for money (53 percent),
  • saving enough money for a big trip or vacation (41 percent).

In terms of teen top financial concerns for the future, those included:

  • paying for college (47 percent),
  • not being able to afford to live on their own (45 percent),
  • paying taxes (43 percent) and
  • finding a fulfilling, well-paying job (40 percent).

“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,” says Brendan Coughlin, president of consumer deposits and lending at Citizens Bank. “We are helping to equip our young people with the tools necessary so they can start on sound footing and make smart financial decisions.”

Other findings include:

  • Most teens (64 percent) turn to their parents or caregivers for financial advice, followed by family members (38 percent), friends (30 percent) and online resources, such as articles and social media (27 percent)
  • Most teens making money have some sort of bank account (61 percent), while the rest save their money unbanked, such as in a shoebox, piggybank or other method.
  • Among those currently in school, more female respondents (40 percent) than males (34 percent) believed they would make less than $35,000 in their first full-time job after high school.
  • More teens (22 percent) earned money in 2019 by working independently, compared to 2018 (16 percent). Most teens depend on gifts for spending money (64 percent), while many receive allowances for doing chores (32 percent).

 The full survey can be found at

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