Kids Need Intervention to Learn to Save

October 11, 2011 ( – According to a poll by Northwestern Mutual Foundation Web site, more than half of all kids (53%) make impulse purchases, which prevents them from saving to buy something special. 

When asked what helps most to stick with a savings goal, the majority of respondents (69%) agreed that it is “putting away a little of my allowance or paycheck each week.” The good news for parents is they can play an active role on this front, helping kids to bridge the gap between intentions (financial goals) and behavior (financial habits), a press release said.

“Almost everyone has made an impulse purchase at some time or another. But, unplanned spending that happens on a regular basis can derail long-term financial goals,” said Rebekah Barsch, Northwestern Mutual, Vice President, in the announcement. “What this poll shows us is that our financial behaviors are starting to form early on, so they can also be addressed early on.”

Impulse buying wasn’t the only distraction to successfully saving that was uncovered by the poll. The results also showed that kids feel “it takes too long to save that much money” (28%), and for some kids the distraction is “falling behind and feeling like I can’t catch up” (13%).

While impulse purchases were the biggest distraction to successful saving overall, there were some key differences between boys and girls. In fact, girls are more than twice as likely as boys (67% versus 27%) to be deterred from a long-term goal by the allure of something they want or need. Boys, on the other hand, were more likely to be impatient in reaching their goal: half (51%) of the boys surveyed said they get distracted due to the fact that “it takes too long to save that much money.”

More girls than boys (84% versus 46%) prefer an automated approach to savings, saying that direct deposits from an allowance or paycheck directly into savings helps them stick with their savings goal. Boys, however, prefer to focus on watching their progress by writing down the goal, and tracking their saving and spending (44% for boys versus only 6% for girls).

From June-September 2011, visitors to the financial literacy Web site were invited to answer two questions about how they stick with their long-term savings goals. A combined total of more than 1,100 respondents nationwide took the survey.