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Assets and finances are near the bottom of the priority list

2 minute read

When it comes to success, it’s not about the Benjamins for young people.

A study from U.S. Bank says that only 23 percent of students believe a high income is an important measure of success, while 72 percent of the same group believe personal happiness is important.

“As students gear up to enter the workforce, they may be underestimating the amount of money they could be making,” the report says. “Students on average expect to earn $42,043 as their starting salary, which is lower than the actual average of $50,219, according to data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.”

And this isn’t all that new. Income is last on the list for what young people want out of work. Millennials want to work at a job that gives them more joy than cash, and that can come back to hurt them. Worries about paying student loans and unexpected expenses mean young people are working nonstop. So while they care more about happiness than money, it turns out they really care a lot about money.

Money woes don’t just stop at daily expenses. While student loan debt is at an all-time high, millennials are more worried about saving for retirement. And according to the U.S. Bank study, it’s not a big surprise. Only 11 percent of student respondents admitted they feel like they understand retirement savings.

“Retirement can seem like a lifetime away as a student, but in reality you should be ready to start contributing to a savings plan right after graduation when starting your first job,” says Robyn Gibson, customer experience director at U.S. Bank. “The longer you wait to start saving for retirement, the harder it gets. College is the right time to start learning about investing, 401(k)s, employer match programs and more.”

Unfortunately, students have no idea what to make of some of the most important money concepts. For basics, like savings and checking accounts, 42 percent of young people understand them, even if they can’t really fathom saving more than they actually need. But only a quarter of them understand what account overdraft fees are and only 15 percent grasp the concept of investing money.

It doesn’t just stop at investment. Students don’t get how their credit scores work, either. More than half believe too many credit cards hurts your score and 44 percent believe checks and debit cards actually help build credit (they don’t). More than 1 in 5 think that once a delinquent loan or balance is paid off, it is removed from your credit report (it isn’t).

It may not be entirely their fault, though. Parents think they’re teaching their children about money, but the kids don’t see it at way. According to the report, 40 percent of parents say they taught their kids how to manage money, but only 18 percent of students say their parents actually did. While a lot of parents believe they can teach the basics about saving and budgeting, most don’t know about investing or saving for retirement. In a separate study, 52 percent of parents believe checks and debit cards affect credit scores.

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About the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn is a full-time freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She’s president of Blossomers Media, Inc., a web development and online media consulting company. Along with her work on, she’s been a longtime freelancer for Money Talks News — a personal and consumer finance website — and South Florida Gay News — the largest weekly LGBT newspaper in the South. Zinn has written for a variety of other publications, including Huffington Post, The Week, Quartz, Fort Lauderdale Magazine, Indulge, and

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