Look at the teens around you -- in your neighborhood, at the mall, under your roof. These are the folks who will be running our great nation in a few decades. And sooner than that, they'll be running their own lives. Sadly, though, too many of them do not have a good grasp of financial matters, putting them at risk for making bad money decisions.
This shouldn't be a surprise, since most of us probably weren't too financially savvy in our salad days. After all, money has rarely been taught about in schools and it isn't a topic that parents traditionally teach their children much about, beyond reminding them that it doesn't grow on trees.
But there's good news. More and more schools are adopting financial curricula. More and more young people are learning about credit cards and checkbooks, banks and bonds, stocks and compounding. Even your friends here at the Fool are actively trying to help teens get smart about money.
The efforts of many to enlighten young people about money are paying off. The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy recently unveiled results from its periodic personal finance and economics survey of high school seniors and found that though the ultimate results are depressing, they're less depressing than in previous years. For example:
- Overall, students gave the correct answer 52.3% of the time, which tops 2002's rate of 50.2% and 2000's 51.9%.
- About 79% knew that folks aged 20-35 rely primarily on salaries, wages, and tips for their income, up from 71% in the last survey.
- Roughly 35% (up from 27.1% in 2002) correctly stated that state government bonds are not protected against loss by the federal government.
- Nearly half were right in saying that retirees living on fixed incomes would have the toughest time in the face of strong inflation. In the last survey, only 35% got this right.
- And just 17% knew that stocks were most likely to offer the best bang for the buck for long-term investing for college expenses. This percentage is down from 18% who got it right in the last survey. (About 80% said, incorrectly, that savings bonds or savings accounts would offer the highest growth rates.)
Do young people you know a favor and point them in the direction of our Teens & Their Money area, or get them a copy of our book, The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens: 8 Steps to Having More Money Than Your Parents Ever Dreamed Of. One day, as they gaze at their huge portfolios full of stocks like Wal-Mart
L ongtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway.