Young Americans — those aged 18 to 26 — are increasingly associating the concept of “adulthood” with financial independence, according to a Bank of America/USA Today Better Money Habits report released today. Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed marked adulthood with a financial milestone rather than other life milestones like starting a family or graduating from high school or college.
While the study found that a majority of young adults — 70 percent — are generally optimistic about their financial prospects, many have legitimate concerns about the economy and their job prospects. Fifty-seven percent described the economy as poor or somewhat poor, and 59 percent say they are concerned about finding a career path that will support the lifestyle they envision for themselves.
Many also feel that high school and college did not adequately prepare them for the financial challenges of adulthood — only 41 percent were satisfied with the financial habits they learned in college, and only 31 percent said that their high school education provided them with enough financial education. When asked what they wished they had learned more about in school, the most common responses were investing, doing taxes and managing monthly bills.
Despite these educational gaps, the majority of young Americans are making saving money a priority — 58 percent of those 18 to 26 said they are saving for the future. The study also found that women have an edge over men when it comes to financial independence; 61 percent of women say they’ve set aside savings, compared to 55 percent of men. Women are also more likely than men to do their own taxes, have their own health insurance and pay their own rent.