Today's twentysomethings hold an average debt of about $45,000, which includes everything from cars to credit cards to student loans to mortgages, according to a PNC financial independence survey released last month. Unemployment for those 18-29 is 12.4%, well above the national rate of 8.2%; and young people face an increasingly complex global economy that is credit-driven and puts more responsibility on individuals to plan for and manage their retirement accounts. The average student loan debt for the class of 2010 is $25,000, per the Project on Student Debt; and the average credit card debt for those 20 to 29 is $1,800.
The Treasury Department and Department of Education have teamed the past three years to assess financial literacy in U.S. high schools: the average score of almost 76,900 students in 2010 was 70%. Last year's testing of about 84,000 students and this year's of about 80,000 students were both a point lower: 69%. Surveys show that parents, not teachers, have the greatest influence on a child's financial literacy. Yet, Beacham notes that many parents aren't fully equipped to deal with their own finances and are often too distracted with other issues associated with raising a child.