collage of money, charts, student working and graduating

Teens and Money

There was an article in the recent Family & Consumer Sciences Research Journal titled What Do Teens Want to Know About Money? that had some interesting statistics I would like to discuss today.

First – one of the most alarming statistics:

  • Financial test scores are at 48.3%, which is down from 57.3% in 1997

An almost 10% drop in scores which were already at a failing rate is alarming – what are we doing to stem this tide of financial illiteracy?

Fortunately we are trying to do our part.  State Farm generously donated money to the Personal Financial Planning department to send some of our students around to 50 high schools over the next year to present the “Top Ten Teen Financial Tips.”  Our students will share their passion for managing their finances and hopefully a few of the tips will stick with the high school students!

On to some of the other interesting statistics:

What do teens most want to know about money?

  • 74% – How financing works for large purchases such as a car or home
  • 72% – Investing money
  • 68% – Identity theft
  • 62% – Saving money
  • 58% – Budgeting
  • 55% – Checking accounts
  • 55% – Credit cards

These are the things they want to learn about money, but how do they want to learn about it?

  • 54% – During school
  • 40% – Magazines/newsletters
  • 32% – Internet
  • 19% – Groups outside school

I found it interesting that “at home” wasn’t included as a response on here.  I have a strong belief that parents can have a profound impact on their children’s financial education – perhaps stronger than anyone else.  If you are a parent reading this please consider each of the areas above and think about how you can teach your child these concepts.

If you are a teacher are you teaching your class these items?  Even if you don’t teach personal finance can you pass along some helpful hints for the students in your class – some of the mistakes to avoid and good decisions to make?  I remember in high school I had a Chemistry teacher who would occasionally say “Put away your textbooks and put your desks in a circle.  We are going to learn some life skills today.”  We would then spend the hour learning life lessons – we talked about college, careers, money, relationships and more.  These lessons had a stronger impact than many of the other lessons I was taught.  Perhaps you can occasionally do the same with your class.

Finally – how do teens get their money?

  • 49% – Parents
  • 31% – Full or part-time job
  • 25% – Odd jobs

The fact that almost 50% of teens get some money from parents provides a valuable teaching opportunity.  Are we just handing money over or are we spending time teaching important lessons?  This follows along with the Tip from two weeks ago about Children and Allowances and last week’s Tip about National Money Talk Night.

We would love to get a discussion going among our readers about these items – if you are a student, what do you most want to learn about money, how do you want to learn about it, and where do you get your money?  If you are an educator or parent, what are some of your “best practices” for teaching these things?

For the full article from the Family & Consumer Sciences Research Journal click this link: