Millennials Lead the Way Toward Financial Literacy

After watching their parents' finances crushed during the recession and their own financial outlook darken in the days following it, Millennials want financial literacy taught in classrooms.

Well, not only is it being taught there, but Millennials are perhaps the most financially literate generation since the World War II generation that survived the Great Depression.

According to a recent survey by LendingTree, 88% of Millennials and 90% of active U.S. teachers says a financial literacy course should be a required before high school graduation. Roughly 60% of Millennials and 56% of teachers felt passing a standardized financial literacy test should be a requirement for high school graduation. Meanwhile, a survey from RBC Wealth Management-U.S. and City National Bank found that 87% of all Americans believe that financial literacy should be taught in schools. Of that group, 15% said instruction should begin as early as elementary school, while 72% said it should be taught in middle and high school.

"Having a basic understanding of how money, investing and our broader financial system works is critical in our society today," says Tom Sagissor, president of RBC Wealth Management-U.S. "Yet there is a growing realization, particularly in the wake of the last financial crisis, that many people don't understand budgeting, investing or how simple financial products like loans work. That puts them at a disadvantage not only during their working years, but as they begin to contemplate retirement."

However, the number of disadvantaged is rapidly shrinking. Though only five states require a dedicated finance course in high school, LendingTree notes that only 35% of Americans finished school without any financial education. Roughly 52% of Millennials who discussed finance very often at home took a high school course that included personal finance, compared to 25% of Millennials who almost never discussed finance at home took a personal finance course.

Also, Millennials (ages 18-34) are far more likely than older generations to have received formal training in managing their personal finances. Roughly 21% of Millennials learned about personal finance in school, compared to just 11% of Generation X (11%) or their parents in the Baby Boom generation (9%). Meanwhile, Millennials' parents have been a lot more helpful in this regard, if only by setting an example of what they shouldn't do with money. Almost 30% of Millennials learned about personal finance from their folks, compared to just 19% of Gen X and 10% of Boomers. The percentage of Millennials left with no financial education (29%), is far lower than that of Gen X (37% or Baby Boomers (38%) as a result.

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