The generation that will soon take over the world has yet to conquer its own financial woes.

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Would you go to jail for a week if it meant getting rid of $10,000 in debt? One in 10 millennials say, “Lock me up and pay me off.”

Even more (16.5 percent) would give up eating out for six months. 46 percent “would give up meeting their favorite celebrity.”

Those were just some of the amusing questions millennials answered in a funny — but as you’ll soon see, also scary — poll conducted by Acorns, the spare-change app has accredited and recommended.

I peruse financial research for a living, and while it’s all important, I must admit much of it is a little dry to the average American. The Acorns poll is short, direct, and worrisome.

For instance, we all know young people aren’t saving for retirement. I’ve written that myself many times, whether answering readers’ questions or imploring Americans to get the facts and ignore the myths.

Acorns cuts to the heart of the matter with one simple question to millennials…

In the past year, did you spend more on coffee than you invested in your retirement?

Perhaps not surprisingly, more than 41 percent said yes. This, however, is surprising: “As a point of reference, the average American spends about $1,100 a year on coffee.”

The natural reaction of everyone older than a millennial is to blame that generation for its poor savings habits. Acorns saw that coming. It subsequently asked millennials if this statement was true: “My high school and/or college education prepared me to manage my money.”

Exactly 70 percent disagreed. This is the result that surprised me least, because I’ve written about it the most. Three years ago, one of the first columns I wrote for implored both parents and our educational system to teach smart money tactics to our children. This single question reveals the previous generations’ failings in this area.

If I found any encouragement in the Acorns’ survey, it was this; 39 percent of millennials who say they “feel anxious when thinking about your financial future.”

That might seem like an odd stat to enjoy, but in 20-plus years as a financial counselor and educator, I’ve learned this; No one gets out of debt until they acknowledge it’s a problem.

If more than a third of millennials admit their financial situation is adversely affecting their lives, that’s the first step to admitting there’s a problem and working at a solution. So maybe, just maybe, if Acorns asks these same clever questions again next year, more millennials will give up a few cups of coffee to pay off some big bills.

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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched I’m glad you’re here.

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