Financially Fit Millennials?

MThe most recent issue of Kipplinger’s Personal Finance magazine provides a special money guide section for millennials (people born between 1978 and 1994) which seems to be very much needed and timely. Based on a Wells Fargo survey of young adults, and as reported by Janet Bodnar, Editor of Kipplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, “more than half of those interviewed were not confident in the stock market as a place to invest for retirement.” The report went on to find that “more than 70% said they think personal finance should be taught in high school or college, 70% wish they had learned more about basic investing in school, and 60% want to know more about saving for retirement.”

Further supporting the need for teaching financial literacy to young adults is a new study by The FINRA Investor Education Foundation – The Financial Capability of Young Adults—A Generational View  – which reveals that “millennials display low levels of financial literacy, engage in problematic financial behaviors, and express concerns about their debt.” Part of FINRA’s study also included a five-question financial literacy quiz where only 24 percent of millennials were able to answer four or five questions correctly. That compared to 38% for Gen Xers and 48% for Boomers. The quiz is quite basic, so these numbers are indeed depressing!

The good news is that there are a lot of organizations joining in on the financial literacy movement, though there is still much more work to do. The fact that most students finishing high school, or even four years of college, have never completed a personal finance course is not very comforting. In California, Assembly Bill No. 166 was approved last year that would require the state board to integrate financial literacy (including, but not limited to, budgeting and managing credit, student loans, consumer debt, and identity theft security) into the next revision of textbooks or curriculum frameworks in the social sciences, health, and mathematics curricula. Hopefully this is the beginning of making sure our next generation will be financially fit or at least fitter!

Please comment and let us know your thoughts.

P.S. – we’re also doing our part here at UCLA Extension with our summer quarter Money Skills for Teens class!

Rich Burnes
Program Director, UCLA Extension
Financial Management Programs

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