By Deanna C. White
Financial Literacy Campaign Survey Says Young Adults More Focused on Savings
A generation ago, young adults at the start of their burgeoning careers were probably more concerned about when to book their next vacation to the Caymans or whether to buy an SUV or a luxury sedan than they were about socking away money in their savings accounts or 401(k)s.
But a recent survey taken by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Ad Council indicates today's difficult economic times have dramatically altered the way people between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-four think about the importance of savings. The organizations released the results of the survey earlier this year to coincide with the launch of a series of public service advertisements on behalf of their national Feed the Pig financial literacy campaign.
The survey found that the majority of young adults want to get on stronger financial footing this year, with 94 percent saying they're at least "somewhat likely" to make saving a priority. This is more than the 90 percent who said the same about living healthier, and the 78 percent who said the same about losing weight. Even so, almost four in ten, or 38 percent, said they have a hard time putting away even $25 a week.
"Young adults, debt-laden and savings-starved, are literally losing sleep as they struggle to put in place financial foundations to support their ambitions", said Jordan Amin, CPA and chairman of the AICPA's National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, which oversees the profession's financial literacy programs. "The future they've imagined is at risk, and that's hurting all aspects of their lives. In Feed the Pig, young adults have a financial navigator – a robust set of tools and advice to guide them to savings success."
In 2006, the AICPA and the Ad Council launched Feed the Pig, a financial literacy campaign committed to helping twenty-five- to thirty-four-year-olds focus on saving at one of the most important times in their lives – a time when they're making critical decisions about personal priorities, housing, family, and debt. The Feed the Pig website was then developed pro bono by agencies Turbine and Radioface after extensive research resulted in an understanding of the concerns and goals of the target audience. The site features iconic spokesman Benjamin Bankes delivering a key message: "Put away a few bucks. Feel like a million bucks."
The financial tools available on the website are of great benefit. President and CEO of the Ad Council Peggy Conlon said",Given the state of the economy over the past couple of years and its impact on young adults today, these tools are an important resource to help them navigate their financial lives. We know that young adults have a hard time saving for their futures and that they are living beyond their means."
Amin says the website also can be an invaluable tool for CPAs and financial planners looking to counsel their younger clients on the importance of financial planning: "The Feed the Pig website is a robust resource for the public and the profession. CPAs can use the tools to underscore the value of financial planning. In fact, we hear regularly from CPAs that their clients have gone on to share Feed the Pig calculators and tips with their children to encourage savings and smarter financial decision making."
Feed the Pig has a strong online and social media presence, including a new mobile website, podcasts, weekly e-mail savings tips, and text messages. There are also Facebook and Twitter pages for Benjamin Bankes.
The Feed the Pig campaign also serves as an extension of 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy, which is the volunteer effort of CPAs across the country. The program was created to help Americans understand their personal finances and develop money management skills. It focuses on financial education as a lifelong endeavor – from children learning about the value of money to adults reaching a secure retirement.