Financial Matters Top of Mind for First- and Second-Time Voters in Ohio

Bank of America/USA TODAY Better Money Habits Report Found Young Ohio Residents Are Optimistic About Their Financial Futures but Worried About Jobs and the Economy

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 11:05 am EDT

A newly released Bank of America/USA TODAY Better Money Habits® Report finds that 18- to 26-year-olds in Ohio plan to vote with their pocketbooks in the upcoming presidential election. According to the report, which surveyed the youngest millennials and the oldest of Generation Z, the majority say that economic issues (68 percent) are more important to them than social issues (32 percent) in how they vote. Specifically:

  • When asked which issues matter most, job growth/unemployment (33 percent) rose to the top, followed by taxes at 30 percent and the national economy at 28 percent.

  • Among those with student debt, 55 percent say it will impact the way they vote.

  • Four in five say their personal financial situation is important in determining the way they vote.

However, while concerned about their pocketbooks, if forced to choose between two candidates – one who is best for their personal finances and one who is best for the country – 77 percent would prioritize what’s best for the country.

Most are optimistic despite uncertainty about economy and job market

In thinking about their personal financial futures, 75 percent of young Ohioans say they feel somewhat or very optimistic about their financial prospects. Still, despite their positive outlook, more than half have doubts about the economy, and roughly one in three describes the job market as either poor or somewhat poor. Sixty-three percent of young adults in Ohio report being worried about finding a career path that will support the lifestyle they’ve envisioned for themselves, with 47 percent saddled with student debt – 12 percentage points higher than the national average.

“While our 18- to 26-year-olds have stayed optimistic about their financial prospects, the fact remains that they are weighed down with more debt than their national counterparts and battling a touch-and-go economy,” said Anne Marie Warren, market sales manager, Global Commercial Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “If we can help them feel more knowledgeable and prepared for the financial challenges that they are up against, that can go a long way.”

The need for additional support and resources is what inspired Bank of America to partner with Khan Academy to create Better Money Habits, a free educational resource aimed at empowering people to be more confident in their financial decision-making. The site delivers easy-to-understand information on a wide range of personal finance topics, including retirement, taxes, and buying a home.

Financial realities redefining what it means to be an adult

For 18- to 26-year-olds around the state, the definition of adulthood has changed: it is less about age and more about financial independence. Forty-six percent of those surveyed did not feel like adults when they turned 18.

When asked to define adulthood in their own words, “having a job” and “financial independence” were the top responses.

Roughly one in three define adulthood as having achieved a financial milestone such as buying a house or car, compared to having achieved traditional life milestones such as getting married/starting a family (10 percent) or graduating from high school/college (5 percent).

For those who feel like adults, 57 percent say it’s because they “taught themselves what they needed to know.” For those who do not feel like adults, the majority (69 percent) say it is because they still rely on their parents.

Many still rely on others for financial support: only 43 percent pay their own cell phone bills, and 46 percent still live at home with their parents. But that does not mean they are not saving: 60 percent are setting aside money for the future and 25 percent are contributing to a 401(k).

Nearly all wish they learned more about personal finance in school

While they are starting to exhibit good habits like saving, the majority of young adults in Ohio say they did not learn enough about practical money matters in high school. Though their education has set them up for success in other ways, young Ohioans are not necessarily feeling “life ready” upon graduating. Only 32 percent said their high school education succeeded in teaching them strong financial habits.

When asked what they wish they had learned more about in school, nearly all named topics related to personal finance, more so than any other life-readiness skill. Learning how to invest, how to do taxes and how to manage student loans topped the list.

About the Bank of America/USA TODAY Better Money Habits Report
Bank of America and USA TODAY commissioned a survey of 2,180 18- to 26-year-olds to explore their views on personal financial matters. The survey was conducted online, in both English and Spanish, during the period of July 1–July 21, 2016. Interviews were conducted by GfK Public Communications and Social Science, using GfK’s KnowledgePanel®, a statistically representative sample source used to yield results that are projectable to the American population. To qualify, respondents had to be 18 to 26 years old. The margin of sampling error for national data is +/- 3.5 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Margin of error for the state of Ohio and the Charlotte, N.C.; Columbia, S.C.; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Detroit, Mich.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Wilmington, Del.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.; San Francisco, Calif.; Boston, Mass.; and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. DMA augments are higher than that of the national sample.

About Better Money Habits®
Bank of America has made a substantial commitment to address the need for better financial education by partnering with Khan Academy – a nonprofit with the mission of providing a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere. Together, we’ve developed Better Money Habits®, a free, objective online financial resource that pairs Khan Academy’s expertise in online learning with the financial know-how of Bank of America. Better Money Habits® delivers simple, easy-to-understand information on a wide range of personal finance topics, including saving, budgeting, building credit, paying down debt, paying for college and buying a house.

About Bank of America Environmental, Social and Governance
At Bank of America, our focus on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors is critical to fulfilling our purpose of helping make people’s financial lives better. Our commitment to growing our business responsibly is embedded in every aspect of our company. It is demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace we create for our employees, the responsible products and services we offer our customers, and the impact we help create around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships across sectors – including community and environmental advocate groups, as well as nonprofits – in order to bring together our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact. Learn more at, and connect with us on Twitter at @BofA_News.

Reporters May Contact:
Diane Wagner, Bank of America, 312.992.2370