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Teens have gotten smart about money

American teenagers now have a greater appreciation for the sacrifices their parents make on their behalf, a new survey says.

By MSN Money Partner May 26, 2011 12:49PM

This post comes from Brian O'Connell at partner site MainStreet.


In a major shift in consumer sentiment among young people, nine out of 10 teenagers say they were "affected" by the Great Recession in a new survey from Charles Schwab.


"You might as well spend as much as you can today -- because you don't know what tomorrow will bring," an anonymous teen quoted in the report says.


According to the study, America's teens have a deeper appreciation for what they do have, namely how hard their parents have worked to keep a roof over their heads, food in their bellies, and in many cases, pave a financial path to college.

"It seems clear that the Great Recession has changed the mindset of teens," says Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, senior vice president at Schwab Community Services. "It has given these 'Recession Generation' youth a deeper appreciation for what they have and how hard their parents work," and this "may be the silver lining to the economic downturn since it gives parents and educators an enhanced opportunity to communicate critical lessons about financial decision-making." Post continues after video.

The study reveals some interesting trends:

  • 64% are "more grateful for what they have."
  • 58% want fewer material goods.
  • 56% have a "greater appreciation" for their parents' hard work.
  • 80% believe the economy remains in a recession.
  • 45% think the recession will still be here in 2012.

Today's teen is tomorrow's banking customer, and the less confidence -- and income --young Americans can bring to the table, the more bank profits will suffer down the road.


However, there is good news for banks too, if not so much for the consumer economy: More teens are becoming "savers" (77%), while just 23% viewed themselves as "spenders." Additionally, a large majority said the money they are saving is earmarked for college.

Schwab also found that teens have learned some important financial lessons:

  • It is important to have enough emergency savings for when times get tough (73%).
  • It is easy to get carried away and spend too much when times are good (59%).
  • It is important to understand the consequences of borrowing money (51%).

Financially speaking, it appears that this generation is growing up fast. Unfortunately, with the unemployment rate for America's teens hovering around 25%, it might be a while before they can put their lessons into practice.


More on MainStreet and MSN Money:

May 30, 2011 7:33PM
I have to agree with the other comment here - it is a strange quote to use when you are trying to prove a positive point rather than a negative one. If anything, the economic situtation over the last two years actually has been a growing experience for my daughter - she got her first job two years ago and has had to learn to save and spend since then. I've tried to help and advise her the best way I can - wait for the big sales on clothes, compare prices when you can, get a prepaid cell phone from a company like Tracfone instead of asking for an IPhone and not being able to pay the monthly bill. She works at Winn Dixie so she doesn't make much, but what she does make, she has had to learn to budget carefully - even with her cell phone. I'm on a tight income and my daughter has had to contribute more than she should, but I'm personally glad to see her saving and making as many good money choices as she can.
May 28, 2011 3:32AM
That disturbing anonymous quote was a strange way to start off something that sounded like it was supposed to be encouraging.
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