(The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a
columnist for Reuters.)
By Bobbi Rebell
NEW YORK Oct 10 For millennials, feeling like
an adult may no longer be about starting a family and buying a
house, but rather landing a job and not asking mom and dad for
A new Bank of America Better Money Habits report, released
Oct. 6, found "financial independence" was the top priority of
about 40 percent of the 18-26 year olds they asked to define
Moving out on your own? Just 14 percent.
Getting married and starting a family or getting an
education? Just 7 percent each.
"It's not so much that young adults are having trouble with
adulting - they've simply redefined it," said Michele Barlow,
enterprise marketing executive at Bank of America.
But achieving that goal of taking care of themselves is
harder than ever. The same Better Money Habits report found that
only 41 percent of those who attended college said their
education did a good job of teaching them good money habits.
Financial education has not been a priority in the U.S. Only
17 states require students to take a high school course in
personal finance, and fewer than 20 percent of teachers feel
competent to even teach personal finance topics, according to
the Council for Economic Education's Survey of the States.
The Council for Economic Education study also found that 72
percent of parents experience at least some reluctance to talk
to their kids about financial matters.
Tara Falcone, founder of financial services company ReisUP,
recently hosted a financial literacy event for a sorority at her
alma mater, Yale. Many students expressed frustration that while
college prepares them well for their professional life, it does
very little to get them ready for their financial life after
graduation, Falcone said.
"The girls wanted to know more about a credit score (what it
is, how it's calculated), budgeting for life in the big city,
how to start investing money made from summer jobs and more,"
Law school student Stephanie Nguyen, 26, can relate. She
will graduate Georgetown with close to $300,000 in student debt
from her undergraduate and law school degrees, and said she is
frustrated there is no formalized system to learn about basic
"It's just so many loans. I try not to look at it," Nguyen
There are ways to get the information on your own.
* Talk to a financial planner
You can find one through the CFP Board (cfp.net/) or through
the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors
NAPFA Chief Executive Geoffrey Brown says that while the
rate will vary depending on the complexity of a client's
finances, a typical range is between $150 and $350 per hour for
a fee-only planner.
Make sure to find out if the adviser is a fiduciary, which
means they work in your best interest and not based on
Brown also advises researching an adviser's background for
an disciplinary issues(sec.gov/).
Many workplaces also offer referrals to financial planners
as part of their employee benefits package.
What will an adviser tell you?
David Rae, a financial planner at Trilogy Financial in Los
Angeles, tells clients that the first thing they need to do is
have an emergency fund to cover three to six months of must-have
expenses. Rae also recommends saving at least 10 percent of your
income and starting retirement accounts.
Tapping into networks and educational resources can also be
a great way to learn about money. Organizations such as
MassMutual's Society of Grownups (societyofgrownups.com) or
Northwestern Mutual's Learnvest (learnvest.com) offer financial
Websites can also give you a good financial foundation. Bank
of America's new Better Money Habits (bettermoneyhabits.com) has
partnered with Khan Academy to provide educational content on
topics such as understanding your paycheck and steps to better
Investopedia (investopedia.com/university/) offers tutorials
on investing and understanding financial terminology such as
inflation and value investing.
(Editing by Beth Pinsker and Alan Crosby)