Northwestern Mutual

Teens’ Money Habits Influenced Most by Parents, Not Friends or Celebs

MILWAUKEE (BUSINESS WIRE), March 29, 2010 - Parents have the most influence on the way teens save and spend, according to a new poll by the Northwestern Mutual Foundation’s financial literacy Web site,

The poll asked teens to choose who had the biggest influence on the way that they saved or spent money. In a landslide, seven out of ten kids aged 17 and younger said “parents” swayed their actions the most, outpacing “friends” (16%), “TV, magazines, books, radio or celebrities” (14%), and “teachers” (1%). The poll results offer parents perspective as National Financial Literacy Month in the U.S. begins in April.

“The good news is that teens are modeling their money habits after mom and dad, as opposed to their favorite characters on Gossip Girl,” said financial literacy expert and Northwestern Mutual Senior Vice President Meridee Maynard. “Believe it or not, parents shape the way teens manage money more than anyone or anything. Typical teenagers don’t like to listen to lectures, but they do actively absorb the way that parents pinch pennies or make mistakes with money.”

The survey also asked teens how they would grade their parents as role models for saving and spending money. Nearly seven out of ten kids aged 17 and younger gave their parents either a “B” or a “C” grade, saying that moms and dads should spend money more responsibly and involve everyone in conversations about the family budget. Less than 30 percent of children honored their parents with an “A.” Fortunately, only two percent of parents received a failing grade.

“The results reveal the need for a reality check by parents – teens are watching mom and dad’s saving and spending habits, and while some are impressed, most see room for improvement,” Maynard said. “Leading by example with money is another way for parents to leave a lasting legacy for future generations. Teaching financial literacy lessons today will help make financial security possible for them in the future, and Financial Literacy Month is the perfect time to get started.”

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About Poll

From December 2009 through March 2010, visitors to the financial literacy Web site were invited to answer two questions about the people and things that influence the way they manage money. A combined total of more than 1,500 respondents nationwide provided insight, and the results were then analyzed based on several demographic factors including the age, gender and location of respondents.

This poll marks the ninth 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 mission of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation is to build strong, vibrant communities that serve as a legacy to future generations. The Foundation’s giving is designed to create an impact on the communities where the company’s employees and financial representatives live and work. In fiscal year 2009, the Foundation contributed more than $15 million to nonprofit organizations across the country.

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

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3/29/2010 2:23:48 PM