Spokane Journal of Business

Parents' good examples help guide financial literacy

Offspring raised in such an environment found more confident in future

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A new study finds that Americans whose parents set good financial examples are more likely to be among the 62 percent of Americans who have a financial plan and feel confident in their financial future.

The first results of the Psychology of Financial Planning Survey, released earlier this year by Genworth Financial Inc., of Richmond, Va., are part of a series of research findings that will be issued throughout 2013. The purpose of the survey was to gain insights into the psyche of Americans about what prompts or restricts them from planning for their financial futures.

"One of Genworth's main goals in conducting this research is to figure out how we can best help consumers prepare for important financial events that will occur in their lives," says Pam Nelson, Genworth's director of customer insights. "Often consumers are so focused on their immediate financial situations that it causes a mental block that prevents them from preparing for their financial futures. We are hoping to better understand and address consumer needs and fears with innovative products and resources that can get them on the road to financial success."

Surprisingly, younger Americans are taking steps early on to plan for their financial futures and are just as likely as other age groups to have a financial plan, Genworth found. Sixty-one percent of respondents ages 25 to 39 have a financial plan, compared with 61 percent of respondents age 40 to 50 and the 63 percent of respondents over the age of 60 with a plan. The finding is particularly insightful given the economic turmoil of the past several years, from the Great Recession to the fiscal cliff, indicating younger people have taken heed, the company said.

"Since younger adults are characterized as living in the here and now, it might seem surprising that they are putting so much emphasis on long-term financial planning. However, their current generation's foundational years are occurring in a period of economic hardship and decline which is shifting this paradigm," says Dr. Barbara Nusbaum, a New York-based psychologist and money coach.

When explaining why people do and don't plan for their financial future, Nusbaum says an important factor is that people learn their financial feelings, attitudes, and behaviors from their parents, both through indirect teaching and observation.

The data confirms Nusbaum's psychological assessment with more than six in 10 (61 percent) respondents who believe that their parents set a good example for them in terms of financial planning.

Respondents with good examples were more likely to have a financial plan and be confident in their financial future.

Sixty-six percent of those who had parents who set good financial examples reported having a financial plan, compared with just 55 percent of those who said their parents didn't set good financial examples.

Similarly, 71 percent of respondents whose parents set good examples said they feel confident in their financial future, and only 33 percent of those respondents fear not having enough money to live comfortably in retirement.

By comparison, just 53 percent of those whose parents didn't set good financial examples said they feel confident in their financial future, and 41 percent fear not having enough money to live comfortably in retirement.

Olympic gold medalist Wendy Boglioli, a Genworth spokeswoman and motivational speaker who champions financial and physical fitness, says, "Parents play such a pivotal role for their children—financially, physically, and mentally—important life lessons that are passed on from generation to generation.

"My parents did not have much money," Boglioli says. "In fact, my mom and dad raised seven kids on $1.90 an hour for over 20 years. But they had a plan and stuck to a daily budget. Their hard-earned money had to work for them in very creative ways. Fortunately, my siblings and I learned to do the same thing."

Although people internalize good and poor financial habits from their parents, Nusbaum points out that even without parents who set good financial examples, people can take it upon themselves to learn better financial habits and develop a plan for their future.

To see how their financial planning habits and confidence compare with others, consumers can access the survey findings at www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1136328/Financial-Planning-Survey.

The Psychology of Financial Planning Survey is a national survey conducted by Toluna and J&K Solutions on behalf of Genworth. The survey was administered online in December. A total of 1,023 adults ages 25 and older with a household income in excess of $50,000 were surveyed.

Genworth, a Fortune 500 insurance holding company, with about 6,300 employees describes itself as being "dedicated to helping people secure their financial lives, families and futures." Its products and services include life insurance, long-term care insurance, mortgage insurance, financial protection coverages, and independent adviser-based wealth management.

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