Young Adults on Economy: We Need Help

Survey finds that young adults struggle as they learn tough lessons.

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Young adults in their mid-twenties are stressed out, and not just because of the typical dating/career/school angst. They are so worried about the future of the economy, according to a new survey from Charles Schwab, that they say making better choices about managing money is more important that strengthening family relationships or improving personal health and nutrition. They also said financial education in schools is even more important than sex education or physical education.

“They wish their parents taught them more about budgeting, saving, and investing. Few parents have those conversations,” says Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, chief strategist for consumer education for Charles Schwab. Young adults also said they wanted the Obama administration to create a media campaign to encourage parents to talk to their kids, as well as provide incentives to encourage employers to educate their employees.

In the long-run, today’s twenty-somethings might end up being better off than the previous generation, Schwab-Pomerantz adds. “This is a moment when younger Americans are learning lessons that perhaps their parents missed,” she says, such as living beyond their means. “They’re going to learn early that that’s not sustainable.” The survey found that young Americans have started eating out less, going on less expensive vacations, and otherwise cutting back.

But at the same time, they were also engaging in less-than-ideal behavior. One in four eligible workers do not participate in their workplaces 401(k) plan, and respondents carried an average of $14,020 in debt (excluding mortgages).

Last year's survey revealed that parents would rather talk about the birds and the bees than money with their children.