Tweens Savvy About Savings

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In a time when Americans have a negative savings rate and carry crushing credit card debt, their children seem to be learning financial prudence.
Financial Literacy

In a time when Americans have a negative savings rate and carry crushing credit-card debt, their children seem to be learning financial prudence.

That's the takeaway from the results of a survey of American "tweenagers" conducted by Weekly Reader Research and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to gauge their attitudes toward money and savings. And they are savers. Indeed, when asked what they would do if given a gift of $100, 59 percent of children between the ages of 9 and 12 said they would save at least $50. More than half (53 percent) have savings accounts, and 47 percent said they have plans for saving and spending their money. Higher education - and, therefore, the prospect of higher earnings - motivates most "tweenagers" to save: 56 percent said they are putting money away for college. Girls tend to be better savers than boys, the survey showed.

"It is so important to teach children at a very early age the importance of money management so they don't find themselves in trouble later on in their teens and twenties," said Terry Bromberg, President of Consumer Custom Publishing Weekly Reader. "We are thrilled that we were able to partner with AICPA on this very worthwhile project."

The announcement of the survey results coincides with today's launch of a special "Budget Buzz" program, which is being distributed in Weekly Reader Grade 4 magazines and sponsored by the AICPA as part of the accounting organization's national 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy campaign and Academic and Career Development activities. This week, more than 650,000 fourth graders around the nation will use this special Weekly Reader program to learn how to create a budget; to figure out profit vs. expenses in running a lemonade stand; and the meanings of words like "estimate," "invest" and "economize."

"Financial literacy is not an end in itself, but a step-by-step process," said Carl George, Chair of the AICPA's National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. "It begins in childhood and continues throughout a person's life all the way to retirement. Instilling the financial-literacy message in children is especially important, because they will carry it for the rest of their lives. The results of the survey are very encouraging, and we want to do our part to make sure all children develop and strengthen their financialliteracy skills."

The AICPA launched 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy (www.360financialliteracy.org) in 2004 to address the alarming deficiency in Americans' understanding of how financial issues affect them at different stages of their lives. Information on financial literacy for children may be found at 360financialliteracy.org/Life+Stages/Childhood.

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The Weekly Reader Research/AICPA survey also revealed:

56 percent of 9 - 12 year olds earn a weekly allowance, mostly by doing household chores; the average allowance among this group is $7.35

Only 18 percent of these children spend all their allowance

18 percent of 12-year olds have a job outside the home

24 percent of "tweenagers" report that their parents force them to save

31 percent said their parents discuss finances with them; high on the list of financial topics are bills, budgets and the cost of education.

Weekly Reader Research and the AICPA surveyed 1,260 children between the ages of 9 and 12 from January 11 - 18, 2006.

Weekly Reader Corporation is a leader in educational publishing. Created in 1902, Weekly Reader publishes 16 magazines and a variety of other supplemental products that reinforce curriculum, help teachers meet standards, and engage students. All 16 magazines have won awards for excellence in educational journalism. Weekly Reader currently serves approximately nine million students and 300,000 teachers nationwide. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (www.aicpa.org) is the national, professional association of CPAs, with approximately 350,000 members, including CPAs in business and industry, public practice, government, and education; student affiliates; and international associates. It sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S. auditing standards for audits of private companies; federal, state and local governments; and non-profit organizations. It also develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination.

Reprinted from AICPA

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