Northwestern Mutual

Poll: Kids Choose to Spend Less and Work More in Tough Times

Kids are willing to spend less and work more to feed their piggy banks in tough economic times, according to a new poll by the Northwestern Mutual Foundation's financial literacy Web site,

In the survey, visitors to the site were asked about the first thing they would do if money got tight. Sixty-six percent of respondents aged 17 or younger said they would either spend a little less or stop spending money on unnecessary items altogether.

"Children are learning quickly that when debt becomes a problem, saving is part of the solution," said Meridee Maynard, financial literacy expert and senior vice president, Northwestern Mutual. "This youngest generation of Americans appears willing to save more and do more to protect what matters most to them."

History shows that challenging times can affect personal saving behavior. In the early 1940s, during the Great Depression and World War II, the U.S. personal saving rate soared above 25 percent (i). From 2005 to early 2008, that rate hovered between zero and one percent, even dropping into negative territory for one quarter as Americans spent more than they earned. By mid-2008, as the U.S. economy slowed, the savings rate spiked, jumping to over three percent by year-end. This trend has since continued through May 2009, with the savings rate having surged to 6.9 percent, a 15-year peak (ii).

"In this challenging environment, kids and adults alike are saving more than they have in the last 15 years," Maynard said.

To view an historical chart of the U.S. Savings Rate, visit: .

Some Kids Prefer to Work More Instead of Spending Less

Twenty nine percent of children aged 17 or younger said they would prefer to "earn more" by getting another job or working more hours instead of "spending less" or "donating less." Interestingly, by comparison, only fifteen percent of adults aged 18 to 29 said their first choice was to earn more. Just three percent of older adults aged 30 to 59 said they would choose to work more before spending less.'s Spending Challenge Helps Create Savvy Savers

Children can test their budgeting brainpower by taking the Spending Challenge on The short quiz helps them see how their choices impact their piggybanks and credit card statements.

  Maynard has four savvy saving tips for kids:

  #1: Pay Yourself FIRST

Put away the amount you planned to save before you do anything else. For example, your parents may ask their employer to take a certain amount of money out of each of their paychecks and put it in an investment fund (a kind of savings account) --the idea is that if they never get their hands on this money, they can't be tempted to spend it. Talk to your parents about how you might do this with your paycheck (if you have begun to work), your allowance, or money you receive as gifts.

#2: Find Out Where Your Money Goes

Keep a money diary. Get a notebook and start writing down any money you spend. Write down what you bought, how much it cost, and why you bought the item.

#3: Cut Your Expenses

Everyone has expenses they can cut. Toys and video games add up. So does junk food for lunch at school. Packing food from home may seem like work, or may not be cool, but buying expensive lunches can keep you from buying that cool gadget or those new clothes. Simple, healthy snacks of fruit, granola bars and water will get you through the day and keep your energy levels up.

  #4: When You Do Spend, be a Smart Shopper
  Do some comparative shopping and get the best price.

For more information about saving tips for kids, visit:

About Poll

From April through June 2009, visitors to the financial literacy Web site http:///were invited to answer two questions related to spending. A combined total of more than 2,400 respondents nationwide provided insight into their tendencies when money gets tight. The results were then analyzed based on several demographic factors, including the age, gender and location of respondents.

This poll marks the sixth in an ongoing series of polls by, with the aim of bringing continued awareness to financial literacy issues. Poll results are archived on the site and can be viewed at

Launched in 1997, is a collaboration between the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, the charitable arm of Northwestern Mutual, and the National Council on Economic Education (NCEE). The site provides fun activities, games, challenges, quizzes and tests for students and teens, helpful tips for parents, and entertaining programs and lesson plans for teachers to promote financial literacy.

About Northwestern Mutual

The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company - Milwaukee, WI (Northwestern Mutual) has helped clients achieve financial security for more than 150 years. Northwestern Mutual and its subsidiaries offer a holistic approach to financial security solutions including: life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability insurance, annuities, investment products, and advisory products and services. Subsidiaries include Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, member FINRA and SIPC; the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company, limited purpose federal savings bank; and Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company; and Russell Investments. Further information can be found at

The Northwestern Mutual Foundation is committed to improving quality of life by concentrating its charitable contributions in the areas of Education, Health and Human Services, and Arts and Culture. In 2008, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation contributed $19.5 million to community betterment, both locally and nationally.

Further information can be found at



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SOURCE: Northwestern Mutual

CONTACT: Jean Towell, 1-800-323-7033,

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7/13/2009 9:30:00 AM