Financial independence for teens and young adults

It’s a fine line between knowing what is enough and what is too much financial help when it comes to teens and adult children.  The hope is to raise strong, independent adults and the key may be instilling knowledge about finances, along with financial confidence.    

The Junior Achievement and Citizens Bank Teens and Personal Finance Survey conducted  by Wakefield Research surveyed 1,000 U.S. teens ages 13-18.  The survey was conducted in March 2019 and found that teens are worried that they won’t be financially independent of parents until after age 30. While 74% of teens believed they will be financially independent by 30 years of age, nearly 30% did not.  

Jennifer Burk, president and CEO of Citizens Bank, said, “This survey findings show a disconcerting lack of confidence among teens when it comes to achieving financial goals. 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.”

According to the survey, teens’ top financial future goal included getting a full-time job (62%) and graduating from a four-year college (59%).  Many also hope to no longer rely on their parents or caregivers for money (52%).

Concerns included worry they won’t be able to pay for college (47%), won’t be able to live on their own (45%) and another 40% worry about finding a fulfilling, well-paying job.

Most teens surveyed look to their parents or caregivers for advice (64%) so it is our responsibility as parents to be sure we provide that education.  To do this, you may wish to rely on groups like Junior Achievement USA, which works with teens to help them be more financially capable adults.

Country Financial recently released the results of a study conducted in June 2018 called Failure to Launch:  Illinoisans Still Rely on Parents to Help with Mobile Phones, Gas, Groceries and Health Insurance.  The study notes, “The line between childhood and adulthood is blurrier than ever and, as a result, many Illinoisans are delaying financial liberation from their parents.”

The Country Financial Security Index showed that more than half of Illinoisans surveyed (60%) receive financial assistance from a parent, guardian or family member after turning 21.  Nearly one-third (27%) receive money three to four times a year and 24% receive assistance at least once a month.

Assistance varies from basic needs to dire ones like rent (44%) and health insurance (16%).  Twenty-three percent of millennials are still living with their parents.

What can be done? Mike Fisher, a vice president at Country Financial in Chicago, had suggestions for young adults preparing to leave the nest, “Take simple steps such as building an emergency fund, saving for a down payment on a home and staying focused on your long-term goals. Doing so will ensure you don’t rely on your parents forever, while enabling you to build financial independence.”

For parents, “Your millennial children moving back home doesn’t have to be a bad thing,” said Springfield-based Country Financial representative Duane Schmedeke. “In fact, with some boundaries attached, it could be the most responsible way for you to help them to transition into the real world. If you have a millennial living in your basement, talk to them about creating a plan to pay off debt.  Set expectations for how long your son or daughter can live at home, and how they can contribute to the household during that time.”

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