Kosakowski: Teens Fear a Future of Economic Doom and Gloom

Our young people look to their parents for inspiration and guidance. When we’re young, the world seems limitless, and one of the most important jobs a parent has is to nurture their child’s dreams that they can do and be whatever they want.

That is the gift of youth, the time for optimism and hope.

Teenager looking for work
Peter Dazeley | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images
Teenager looking for work

Yet a new survey conducted by Junior Achievement USA and The Allstate Foundation shows us our teens are thinking differently—at least in terms of their financial security and independence. Teens are no longer as confident in their ability to achieve financial freedom. The survey of more than 1,000 14-18 year-old teens found that only 56 percent think they will be as financially well-off or better than their parents. That represents a 37 percent drop from 2011.

What happened to the dream of a better tomorrow? How do we help our teens—our future—get it back?

Despite recent reports that this will be the first generation in a century that is unlikely to end up better off financially than its parents, our young people have the opportunity to shape their own futures, as long as they have the skills, knowledge and confidence to do so.

Since parents are still the number-one source of money-management information for youth, according to teens in our survey, it is vital for parents to continue to open a dialogue with their children about smart money-management practices. By many counts, the economy is looking up, so let’s make sure our young adults are following suit—learning about money management, understanding the importance of saving and using a budget.

Parents, you don’t have to do it alone. At Junior Achievement(JA), we are committed to preparing students from kindergarten through high school 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, which is why JA has developed relevant programs crafted to meet the needs of an ever-changing environment. In fact, with support from The Allstate Foundation, we have created a series of free, downloadable money-management activities for parents to do with their children, to help open the sometimes awkward conversation about money.

Junior Achievement works closely with educators and with the business community to deliver our programs to four million U.S. youth annually. To learn more about what JA is doing in your community, please visit our website www.ja.org.

Let us help our young adults revive optimism, the gift of youth!

Jack E. Kosakowski is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Junior Achievement USA. Junior Achievement is the world's largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. Today, JA reaches four million students per year in 122 markets across the United States, with an additional 5.8 million students served by operations in 119 other countries worldwide.