Facts & Resources

Parents, Great Recession Influence Millennial Money Views and Habits

Teachable Moments Stick With Millennials, Result in Better Money Habits Saving for an Emergency Top of Mind; Long-term Saving Still Lags


Tuesday, April 21, 2015 9:00 am EDT



Public Company Information:

"The research suggests that millennials whose parents taught them the importance of wise money management and saving are better prepared to meet their financial needs later in life. That preparation is even more important in the context of changing economic conditions that can impact one’s financial situation."

Millennials’ financial views and habits have been most influenced by their parents, but the Great Recession has also had lasting impacts on how millennials think about money, according to a Bank of America/USA TODAY Better Money Habits Millennial Report released today.

Eight in 10 millennials believe their attitudes toward money were influenced “a lot” or “some” by their parents, with four in 10 saying parents influenced them “a lot” – a stronger degree of influence than parents credit themselves (30 percent). Nearly three in five (58 percent) say their parents’ advice or example most influenced how they handle their finances today.

“Our research shows that parents remain the strongest influence on the money habits their children develop and practice as adults,” said Andrew Plepler, Global Corporate Social Responsibility executive, Bank of America. “The research suggests that millennials whose parents taught them the importance of wise money management and saving are better prepared to meet their financial needs later in life. That preparation is even more important in the context of changing economic conditions that can impact one’s financial situation.”

Saving early is most important lesson; millennials prioritize emergency saving over long-term goals

Save and save early: Parents and millennials agree that’s the most important piece of financial advice parents can give their children, and that lesson is resonating. Two-thirds of millennials (68 percent) have money set aside for savings.

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, the priority on saving for emergencies is top of mind for both millennials and their parents. Nearly half of all millennials (49 percent) say the economic downturn changed the way they think about saving, investing and spending, and more are currently saving for an emergency than for anything else. Likewise, 64 percent of parents say the downturn changed their financial behavior with one-third (32 percent) of those reporting that they are now saving more for a “rainy day” as a result.

Long-term savings challenges: After saving for an emergency (44 percent), there is a significant decline in the number of millennials saving for other longer-term goals, with only 20 percent who are saving for a car and 26 percent who are saving to buy a house. Slightly more positive is the number of millennials who are saving for retirement at 29 percent.

“It’s good to see that millennials are planning for the unexpected in the short term, but having a long-term view early can make a big difference down the road,” Plepler said. “While longer-term goals may seem far away, starting to save early is critical to meeting your future goals, whether saving for a car, buying a house or equally as important, saving for retirement.”

Student loan burdens: Nearly half of all millennial respondents who attended or are currently attending college (49 percent) have a student loan that they pay for, with an average payment of $201 per month. Of these, more than half (54 percent) say student loan payments have “a lot” or “some” impact on their ability to save.

Teachable moments stick with millennials

For millennials who say their parents did an “excellent” or “good” job teaching them about financial habits, 74 percent have savings and 48 percent make a monthly budget. On the opposite end of the spectrum, of millennials who say their parents did a “fair” or “poor” job, only 55 percent have savings and 37 percent make a monthly budget.

Parents used a number of different activities to teach their children lessons about money. Across the board, millennials who have savings are more likely to have said they experienced these “teachable moments.” The most effective actions associated with millennial savers include: opening a checking or savings account (70 percent), earning money for helping with chores (64 percent), saving for something they wanted (63 percent), saving money in a piggy bank (62 percent) and playing board games that involved money, such as Monopoly (54 percent).

Better Money Habits launches new content to help parents

Bank of America is launching new tools and resources for parents on, the free online financial education resource powered by Bank of America and education innovator Khan Academy. Inspired by Khan Academy’s modern approach to learning, the platform provides engaging and easy-to-understand content on a wide range of personal finance topics. The new Families and Money content is divided into topics appropriate for parents of elementary, middle and high school-aged children and includes issues such as establishing allowances, setting up money rules and introducing children to banking.

Parents see greater challenges for millennials; continue financial support into adulthood

Majorities of millennials and parents believe today’s young adults have struggled to find jobs and are still impacted by the economic downturn of 2008. A majority of parents (56 percent), more so than millennials (44 percent), also think young adults have it harder living within their means than parents did when they were young. Many millennials and parents think millennials’ financial hurdles – from buying a house to saving for retirement – are more difficult than those faced by the previous generation.

This perception of hardship could be why today’s parents are lending more financial support to their adult children than previous generations. Nearly two-thirds of millennials (65 percent) say their parents helped them out “a lot” or “some” when they were just starting out compared to 36 percent of parents who say they received financial help at the same stage in life. Nearly one-third (31 percent) who provide financial assistance do so because they believe their children truly “need” their help.

Overall, 40 percent of millennials currently receive financial help from parents, including more than one in five (22 percent) ages 30-34 and one in five who are married or living with a partner (20 percent).

Additional report findings:

Good comfort level on money conversations

  • Majorities of both parents and millennials say parent-child conversations about money matters are “not very/not at all difficult.”
  • Only a small number of millennials report that spending and budgeting (17 percent) and savings and investments for the future (16 percent) were “very” or “somewhat” difficult topics to discuss with their parents.
  • Almost half of millennials (44 percent) and parents (44 percent) report that millennials are still directly asking for financial advice at least somewhat often.

Large disparity on when money lessons should begin

  • Seventy-eight percent of millennials think financial conversations should begin before the teenage years.
  • Only 52 percent of parents began talking with their children about the importance of good financial habits before they were teenagers.

Parental double standard

  • Nearly one in five (18 percent) parents says they don’t follow the same financial advice they give to their children.

Student loan pressures inhibiting personal and career goals

  • Nearly half of those who are going/went to college or whose kids have gone to college (49 percent of both millennials and parents) noted their family has a student loan that the millennial pays.
  • Millennials with student loans pay on average $201 per month; parents who help their children with student loans pay on average $158 per month.
  • Among those who have a child who has gone to college, one in five parents (23 percent) pays for their child’s student loan; one in 10 parents (8 percent) have taken out an additional loan on top of student loans to pay for their child’s education.
  • Twenty percent of millennials with student loans have delayed starting a family because of their loan debt.
  • Twenty percent of millennials with student loans say their debt caused them to take a job they are overqualified for in order to make money.

Turning the tables on financial assistance

  • Forty-two percent of millennials believe they will need to support their parents “a lot” or “some” as they age.
  • Only 18 percent of parents think their millennial children will need to help them to the same degree.

Additional findings can be found in the survey report at

Bank of America/USA TODAY Better Money Habits Millennial Report
In follow-up research to a November 2014 report on millennials’ financial habits, Bank of America and USA TODAY surveyed 1,000 millennials and 1,005 parents of millennial children to examine the parental influence on the money habits and views of today’s young adults and to understand how these compare among generations. The survey was conducted online during the period of March 4–March 11, 2015 by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communication, using GfK’s KnowledgePanel®, a statistically representative sample source used to yield results that are projectable to the American population. To qualify, millennial respondents had to be 18 to 34 years old and the parent sampling group had to have a child(ren) between the ages of 18 and 34. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

Better Money Habits
Bank of America has made a substantial commitment to address the need for better financial literacy by partnering with Khan Academy – a nonprofit with the mission of providing a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Together, they’ve developed, a free, objective online financial resource that pairs Khan Academy’s expertise in online learning with the financial expertise of Bank of America. The customizable experience breaks down concepts and provides practical, actionable steps to strengthen the connection between financial knowledge and behavior. Since the site launched in 2013, we’ve connected millions of people to information to help them make more confident financial decisions. To learn more, visit

Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 48 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 4,800 retail financial centers and approximately 15,900 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 31 million active users and approximately 17 million mobile users. Bank of America is among the world's leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and more than 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

USA TODAY is a multi-platform news and information media company. Founded in 1982, USA TODAY's mission is to serve as a forum for better understanding and unity to help make the USA truly one nation. Through its unique visual storytelling, USA TODAY delivers high-quality and engaging content across print, digital, social and video platforms. An innovator of news and information, USA TODAY and, an award-winning newspaper website launched in 1995, reflect the pulse of the nation and serves as the host of the American conversation — today, tomorrow and for decades to follow. USA TODAY is the nation's number one newspaper in print circulation (including affiliated publications) with an average of nearly 2.7 million daily print circulation (as of AAM quarterly filing December 31, 2014) and reaches a combined 79 million readers monthly across all platforms. USA TODAY is a leader in mobile applications with more than 16 million downloads on mobile devices. USA TODAY is owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI).

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