Millennials struggle with financial literacy

Paralyzed. That's how Paige Worthy feels when she thinks about budgeting her money.


"I freeze. I have no idea where to even start with this," the 29-year-old says.

 

Worthy has held at least six jobs since graduating from college in 2005. She lives in Chicago, where she works as a publication director at a non-profit press association — but she plans to leave that job to do freelance content marketing starting next month. Over the past few years, she has "just scraped together," which she attributes to an unstable income and sporadic spending habits.


"Part of me feels like I'm way too old to be flying by the seat of my pants like that," she says.

 

But Worthy has plenty of company in her generation. Studies show that a majority of young people in the United States have poor financial literacy, a trend that's been consistent over the past decade and shows few signs of improving. This at a time when young adults face a difficult job market and more personal debt, and yet must take greater responsibility for their financial future.

 

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.

 

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