The 1980s was the decade of the big spenders. The 1990s, says the College for Financial Planning, will be the decade of the big savers - including a group not known for thrift.

According to the "High School Financial Awareness Survey," the generation that will be entering the work force in this decade will be using passbooks as well as plastic to get their slice of the good life.If true, it's a breath of fresh air for those who have long bemoaned the lack of a savings ethic among Americans in general and young people in particular.

According to the study's responses from 1,858 students nationwide who recently completed the College's High School Financial Planning Program, which teaches students the basic principles of money management, 66 percent have a savings account and say they are aware of the importance of saving.

The survey was conducted to assess the students' knowledge and attitudes about financial planning and the impact the program has had on their overall money management skills.

The majority (63 percent) think they should be saving up to 20 percent of their income, 15 percent indicate savings should represent 21-30 percent, and 17 percent would like to save over 30 percent of their money.

Eighty percent of the students say they are satisfied with the amount of money they are able to save, and 31 percent indicate they will use their savings to help fund their college education.

The majority of respondents (78 percent) indicate that they try to "pay themselves first," or allocate a portion of their wages or allowances to a savings account before spending any money.

When it comes to making purchases with their income, few use credit cards - either their parents' or their own. Although 49 percent have access to credit cards in a parent's name, only 17 percent have established credit in their own names.

Of those using credit cards, the balance on the card used most often averages $100, and students typically make monthly payments of $50 or less. Thirty-five percent of the students pay the balance in full each month, 21 percent pay only the minimum due on the cards each month, and 23 percent pay an amount more than the minimum but not enough to pay off the balance.

Eighty-three percent of the students say they have changed or intend to alter their money management skills because of what they learned in the CFP program. And three out of four (78 percent) of those surveyed indicate they believe all high schools should teach more about personal financial planning.

Seventy-two percent of the survey respondents were junior and seniors; 56 percent were female, and the majority (84 percent) were age 16 to 18.

Since its inception in 1984, the College's High School Financial Planning Program, which is provided at no charge to public and private schools nationwide, has been taught to more than 94,800 students in more than 1,400 schools in all 50 states. Another 200 schools will be offering the program to more than 10,000 students this fall.

The College for Financial Planning is an independent, non-profit institution offering financial planning education to professionals throughout the financial services industry.

If you would like to learn more about the program, contact the High School Program department of the College at 303/220-1200.