Northwestern Mutual Poll Reveals Reality Check for Parents

Parents and kids clashed when asked about the impact of the economy on their families, according to a new poll by the Northwestern Mutual Foundation's financial literacy Web site,

To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click for-parents-78762002.html

Visitors to the site were asked how their family was affected by the turbulent economy. Almost half of adults aged 18 and older (47%) said that the economy brought their families closer by working together to change their spending habits and priorities. Only one in four children aged 17 and younger agreed (27%).

Instead, most children (50%) said their parents didn't discuss the family budget or do anything differently. Ironically, about a quarter of kids actually thought family members had drifted further apart since economic conditions began to worsen.

"Mom and dad think they're connecting with their kids about money, yet their children say little has changed," said Northwestern Mutual Senior Vice President Meridee Maynard. "Kids can learn great lessons from this tough economy, but they need guidance, and that's where the parents come in."

It starts when parents lead by example, modeling money smart behaviors for their children to follow. That means managing money carefully and discussing prudent saving and spending strategies. Then, once the family budget is determined, parents can involve their kids in conversations about the way money is saved and spent.

"Understanding how to use money at a young age can help build a foundation for future financial security," said Maynard. "Every day there are real-life opportunities to talk about money so parents should seize the moment whenever possible."

  Multimedia Links

  --  Chart: Adults Perceive Economy's Positive Effects's "Daily Opportunity Challenge" Shows Parents How to Involve Their Kids

Parents can see how well they recognize everyday events as opportunities to teach money lessons by using's "Daily Opportunity Challenge."

Maynard has three quick tips to help parents start conversations with their kids about money.

  #1: Show money smarts while shopping
  --  Reinforce smart spending, not immediate gratification.  Wait for
      discounts, save for items and pay with cash instead of plastic.
  --  Talk about value and explain why you chose one product over another. 
      As a family, compare several items before you select one.  Celebrate

  #2: Do a bill-paying show-and-tell
  --  Use bill-paying to explain what it takes to run a household.  Explain
      why bills increase when family members don't turn off the running
      water, lights, TVs, and computers.
  --  When there are large, unexpected expenses, ask the kids for their help
      to economize and cut back.

  #3: See big purchases as big opportunities
  --  Research brands and the features of purchases and explain the findings
      to your kids.
  --  As a family, talk about the pros and cons of a purchase.

Parents can find more "kid conversation tips" to use with children of all ages on

About Poll

From September through November 2009, visitors to the financial literacy Web site were invited to answer two questions linking retirement savings and life expectancy projections. A combined total of more than 1,000 respondents nationwide provided insight into their expectations for retirement, and the results were then analyzed based on several demographic factors including the age, gender and location of respondents.

This poll marks the eighth 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 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 fiscal year 2009, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation contributed $15 million to community causes nationwide.

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.

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SOURCE: Northwestern Mutual

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

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12/9/2009 8:00:00 AM