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Millennial teens' confidence plummets over their financial future

Published: Thursday, April 19 2012 8:32 a.m. MDT

American teens' confidence in their financial future took a hit over the last year, according to a survey by Junior Achievement and Allstate.

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Teen angst over money increased nearly 40 percent over last year, a recent survey says.

USA Today reported on how young adults lost their confidence: "Just 56 percent of kids 14 to 18 think they will be as financially well-off, or better off, than their parents, according to a new survey from Junior Achievement and the Allstate Foundation. That's a huge plunge from 89 percent in 2011."

"So much for the optimism of youth," the Hungry For News blog commented about the 33-point drop in confidence since last year.

A press release from Allstate talked about how the 2012 Junior Achievement Teens and Personal Finance survey also found a huge shift in what age teenagers thought they would become financially independent from their parents: "Less than half of teens who responded indicated they'd be independent by age 20 versus a year ago (18 percent in 2012 versus 44 percent in 2011). The number of teens who said they would be independent by ages 25-27 doubled from last year (23 percent in 2012 versus 12 percent in 2011)."

USA Today compared the results to a 2011 survey from Charles Schwab & Co. that showed teens were losing money management skills: "One in four 18-year-olds said they knew how to manage a credit card in 2011, down from 64 percent in 2007. Just 43 percent knew how to balance a checkbook or check the accuracy of a bank statement, a shift from 60 percent in 2007."

"What happened to the dream of a better tomorrow?" asked Jack E. Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA, in the Huffington Post.

Kosakowski told USA Today, “ ‘It's the cumulative toll' of years of financial stress. … They've seen relatives get laid off and perhaps family members lose homes."

USA Today gave other reasons for the drop in confidence:

Parents have opened up about financial troubles.

Parents aren't teaching kids money lessons.

Teens know how tough it is to get a job.

Teens are still fearful about the economy.

None of the articles found about this survey results mentioned the heavily covered Occupy Wall Street protests as a possible cause for the teens' pessimism.

Millionaire Corner did a survey in January that "found that older investors believe it will be more difficult for future generations to achieve the American Dream. For example, more than three-quarters of investors under 40 share this more pessimistic outlook vs. 87 percent of seniors over 60."

Business News Daily said the lack of optimism may have to do with how the teens take action: "Part of the reason for this pessimism comes from the fact that teens are not doing a good job managing their money, Junior Achievement said. The number of teens who reported not budgeting their money properly stood at 34 percent, compared with 10 percent last year."

But the majority of teens (56 percent) are still optimistic — even if a large portion lost their hope over the last 12 months. Junior Achievement's Kosakowski said in the Huffington Post that parents are key to giving them confidence:

"It is vital for parents to continue to open a dialogue with their children about smart money-management practices. By many counts, the economy is looking up, so let's make sure our young adults are following suit — learning about money management, understanding the importance of saving and using a budget."

Email: mdegroote@desnews.com; Twitter: @degroote; Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote