Today’s teens need fiscal education

By Brad Baldwin / Guest Editorial

In the coming months, millions of American teens will be graduating from high school. There was a time when high school graduation meant kids would go to college, get a degree and start a career.

But in recent years, a sluggish economy and the growing skills gap in the American workforce has seen many graduates heading back home to live in mom and dad’s basement after receiving their college degree. This is a reality reinforced by a recent assessment of census data by Pew Research Center showing that more than one-in-four adults between the ages of 25-34 had moved back with their parents at one time or another during the “Great Recession.”

Teens today are more optimistic about their futures with a 20 percent increase in those saying they expect to be financially better off than their parents. But part of their financial security now comes from depending on parents longer. A new survey from Junior Achievement USA and the Allstate Foundation shows that 25 percent of teens believe they will be age 25-27 before becoming financially independent from parents/guardians, up from 12 percent in 2011.

Jobs are still hard to find, especially for new graduates, and societal norms are more accepting of the formerly dreaded fate of “living with your parents.” Teen’s perspectives are changing and they now assume they will remain financially dependent on parents longer while building a better future for themselves.

Similarly to how many parents have encouraged and taught their children through other aspects of their lives, it is imperative to give them a boost to financial independence by talking to them about money. Thirty percent of teens think their parents don’t talk to them enough about money. As a result, teens say they are unsure about their ability to budget (23 percent), use credit cards (20 percent) or invest money (34 percent). Parents can teach kids about each of these financial necessities, and Junior Achievement provides the tools to foster financial independence to our local classrooms.

At Junior Achievement, we are committed to preparing students from kindergarten through 12th grade to own their economic success. We understand that preparing our youth to be financially literate is more complex than teaching them to put their pennies in a piggy bank. That is why Junior Achievement has developed relevant programs crafted to meet the needs of an ever-changing economic reality. As an example, the Junior Achievement JA Economics for Success program, created in partnership with the Allstate Foundation, has helped more than 1.2 million students set personal goals about money and make wise financial choices, like renting an apartment post-graduation.

Locally, Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa (JAEI) programs provided lessons in money management, work readiness, entrepreneurship and banking to 13,661 teens in 10 area counties last year alone. Junior Achievement works closely with educators and with the business community to deliver our programs to more than 4.2 million U.S. youth annually. Here in Eastern Iowa, JAEI served 41,572 children in the 2011-2012 school year.

We know times have been tough, but now is the time to take action to secure independent financial futures for our children. Empower your children today. To learn more about Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa, visit


Brad Baldwin is vice president of operations at MediRevv and Iowa City board president of Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa.