How Generation Y Really Feels About Personal Finance

by Jason Unger

When you’re growing up in a recession, you tend to learn from the mistakes of the previous generation and try to avoid them in the future.

For Generation Y, managing finances is important, according to research from Charles Schwab.

“Making better choices about managing money” is the most important issue for Americans to act on today, says 52 percent of the 23-28 year olds surveyed.

“This age group is clearly riveted by our weakened economy,” says Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of Charles Schwab Foundation.

While young people have the most opportunity to prosper in this environment — now’s a great time to be investing for retirement — they may not be as prepared as they should be.

However, many in this age group admit they don’t feel adequately prepared to make good financial choices when it comes to using debt wisely (28 percent), saving for the future (40 percent) or investing their money (43 percent). And when asked which aspects of personal finance they wish they had learned more about before entering the workforce, living within a budget (45 percent), and the importance of saving (42 percent) rise to the top of the list.

When it comes to learning about money management, the survey found that younger workers are looking to their employers for help.

  • 401(k) or company-sponsored retirement plan guidance (50 percent of employees want it; 30 percent of employers offer it). Interestingly, of those individuals who have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, 87 percent believe it’s an important benefit but 35 percent aren’t contributing to it. Of those who do contribute, over one-third (35 percent) aren’t confident in their ability to make suitable investment choices.
  • Debt management education (30 percent of employees want it; eight percent of employers offer it)
  • Advice on investing outside a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan (30 percent of employees want it; seven percent of employers offer it)
  • Budgeting advice (26 percent of employees want it; 10 percent of employers offer it)
  • Guidance on purchasing a home (22 percent of employees want it; five percent of employers offer it)
  • Counsel on saving for a child’s education (19 percent employees want it; four percent of employers offer it)

As a Generation Y’er myself, I can understand where most of my peers are coming from. We don’t have nearly the amount of personal finance education in this country that we should, and often it’s up to use to go out and learn proper money management.

We’ve seen how we got into this mess; now let’s try not to repeat it.

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