Most 20-Somethings Are Pessimistic About Their Financial Futures

worried young adultsThese days, 20-somethings aren't just the young and the restless -- they're the young and the anxious. According to The PNC Financial Services Group's Financial Independence Survey, that demographic is full of financial fears.

The numbers are none too optimistic -- less youthful swagger and more stagger. Only 23% of those in their 20s consider themselves financially independent, just 30% have gotten a job in their chosen field, according to the survey, and 40% rely on two or more sources of income, whether that means multiple jobs or withdrawals from the Bank of Mom and Dad.

Though 26% overall said they feel they are right on target financially, and another 25% felt they are ahead of where they expected to be, nearly half said they aren't where they want to be or where they thought they would be.

They're not so sure about the future either, and the older they get, the less sure they become: 26% of 22- and 23-year-olds said they are optimistic about their financial futures, compared to just 14% of 28- and 29-year-olds. Only 5% of 20 and 21-year-olds said they have "no idea" when they'll be financially independent, if ever, but fully 20% of those ages 28 and 29 gave that response. As for retirement, a mere two out of 10 are confident they'll have enough money to live comfortably when they are ready to stop working.

It's Not As Bad As They Think

Still, Todd Barnhart, a senior vice president at PNC Bank (PNC) told DailyFinance that 20-somethings have more cause for optimism: "You can do it," is his message to them. "While becoming financially independent may be a longer road than anticipated, it is not completely out of reach."

"As 20-somethings reach their 30s, we see the level of uncertainty about financial independence rise significantly. While I know 30 may seem ancient to Millennials, the truth is, that time is still on their side, so it's important to remember not to panic and to continue planning for the future," says Barnhart.

Patience and persistence will go a long way. "Don't beat yourself up for not meeting your own expectations. Try to think positively about your financial goals," said Barnhart in a prepared statement. He offered these four guidelines for young people.
If you're 20-something, how do you feel about your finances?
Great, I'm working, making good money. My financial future looks bright.1 (20.0%)
So-so. I have a job, but am still struggling and need help from my parents.1 (20.0%)
Bleak. I am unemployed.1 (20.0%)
I am pessimistic about where I am now and where I'll be in the future.1 (20.0%)
1 (20.0%)

Develop good habits, liking paying yourself first. "Establish a regular savings program. A 401(k) plan through your employer is a great place to start," said Barnhart.

Forget all those credit card offers.
"Avoid debt traps. Not all debt is bad, but seriously consider interest rates to be sure you don't accumulate high-interest debt that can keep you from using that money to save or invest," said Barnhart.

Keep the numbers straight. Budget and track spending. It's basic, but easy to get lost in the hubris of young adult life. Be consistent in managing your money, how much you spend, how often, where.

Parents have a part to play too.
"Have those difficult conversations about debt, savings and spending with your children and adult children," said Barnhart. "Further, it may be hard, but be as transparent as possible with your children about your own financial mistakes and successes -- nothing will hit as close to home as real world examples."

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I am in my late 30s and this doesn't sound any different to me than what they were saying when I was 20. The only thing that surprised me, given the headline, is that 42.2% felt "Great!" about their finances. That sounds very high to me and I'd be surprised if people my age are as positive.

I don't remember jobs growing on trees when I graduated from college and I had student debt as well. I have also been paying into Social Security since I was 16 and have no idea how much of that I'm going to get back.

November 24 2012 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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January 18 2012 at 9:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Young people need to know that the older citizens in this country who collect Social Security ARE NOT ACCEPTIING WELFARE!
Back in 1980's during the Reagon term as President.... Trillions of dollars were diverted from the Social Security Trust Fund to a General Fund so that the US could pay its damn bills and make Reagon look look the Hero which he
never was. The funds were never returned to the Trust Fund. Nothing in the Trust Fund these days but a bunch of notes which are not worth anything. This was a c rimninal act against all the people who paid into Social Security and the companies that matched their payments. No one is talking about this these days probably because some of the niwits that did the stealing are still "serving" our country. Check it out, Scott Burns has been writing about this a lot lately. I read it in the Houston Chronicle. ( Augus 31, 2011.
Just think about all this money and how the Trust would look today with interet being paid.
Now, these jerks are getting ready to throw all the payers under the bus.
Such integrity, don' you think?

September 09 2011 at 5:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Adele's comment

And your point is?

Ive been paying SSI since i was 16, just to see people whine about it not being enough cause they didnt save enough in 401K's, IRA's or anything else. Im 25 now and even my teachers in HS told us that we should plan on needing 3 sources of retirement income.

So basically i see a lot of peoples situations as their own creation, SSI is a supplement not a full ride. Maybe Reagan is a douche but that doesnt absolve people of their own responsibility to their retirement or make it everyone elses responsibility to cover their poor choices.

September 09 2011 at 8:09 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to stalb427's comment

f cocurse
Social Security is a suplement.

September 11 2011 at 5:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

Sorry for the mess.. I have a cat that loves to lie down on the keyboard when I am using it... okay... to your comment.
Of course Social Security is intended only as a supplement to savings for the retired person.
I paid into Social Security for FORTY YEARS . And the company I worked for paid (for me) a like amount. A total of 15% out of the last paycheck I received.
I wonder what your point is? Do you not condemn stealing a persons and her companys contributions?
Do you have any idea as to how well Social Security would be doing these days if this money was returned to the Trust Fund?
Can you even imagine how much a TRILLION dollars is. two trillion DOLLARS? And interest?.
I resent someone like you who is still wet behind the ears telling me I made poor choices.
You are uninvolved, uninformed and hostile. But, what the heck, you are also twenty-five... I will
overlook your resentment.
For your information, I can live very well without Social Security, but why should I , just because the
the Congress and Reagon passed a thieving restructuring? THAT IS WHAT THEY CALLED IT "RESTRUTURING"

Scott Burns is highy respected business reporter. You should find and read his colums on this subject.
Even at twenty-five you might understand this situaion better. I always have hope.

September 11 2011 at 5:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down

Telling that %42.6 as of 20 somethings as of this writing feel their financial futures are bright according to the poll. I would draw one of two conclusions from this: It may be that 20-something Huffington Post readers tend to be more well off than others in their age group, or, it may be that people who are pesimistic about their financial futures tend to avoid reading articles about personal finance, since they find them depressing.

September 09 2011 at 2:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

One of the problems in today's economy is that the kids are not being given the opportunity to learn a marketable skill or how to work. "Would you like fries with that" is not a marketable skill. My sons went to the military to learn their skills, earn the benefits and save money. The first selected helicopter repair. Aafter discussing the post service job opportunities with one of my clients. He was told that after service, if he demonstrated that he had learned the craft, an offer of $80-$90K would be made. On the other hand, if it was apparent that he had just gone through motions, keep on walking. After two years in Army his savings account is about 20K with another four years to go. The opportunities are out there. You just have to get off your ass and look for them. Finally, when you do get an opportunity for work the formula is simple. 1. Show up on time. 2. Dress appropriately fo the job. and
3. Do what you were hired to do.
Good luck on your future endeavors as it is all up to you.

September 09 2011 at 10:39 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to TWBCPA's comment

You said it.... My hats off to you. My thoughts exactly.
I have a friend right now who is looking for an employee t (male or female) to hire for a financial company. She has been inerviewing for three months. Told me yesterday she coud not find a suitable employee out of twenty-two interviews.
Some could not read well, some could not understand what they read.
Then there were the ones with tattoos and rings thru their noses and lips and tongues.
A lot of the younger generation has been abandoned by their parents as far as manners and learning are concerned.
Just give the kid a car and turn him loose and he will not be a bother.
Yeah, right!

September 11 2011 at 6:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I can see how a 20 or even a 30-something could be very pessimistic about the future. When I was in my 20's and 30's everything I touched seemed to turn to gold. Now I watch my children, ( who are smarter and better educated than myself) struggle to just get by. I watch them work hard and buy houses with a 25% down payment and yet they are still underwater on their mortgages,( but will continue to pay on time). I watch them save for their retirement only to have the value of their portfolios rise and fall,(down about 14% in the last few months alone) by extreme amounts with very little permanent gain. I watch them as they dedicate themselves to thier work and are rewarded with promotions only to find themselves working for less money than they made when they signed on to their jobs. I watch as they pay into Social Security and Medicare which they know will not be there in present form for them if they make it to retirement and old age. But, as Teddy Roosevelt said," Far and away the best prize life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." At least they have that for now, but for how much longer?

September 09 2011 at 8:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I have a sure fire way for someone to get rich quick in the stock market. It is a simple fool proof system.
You simply watch what I do. If I buy, make sure you sale. If I sale, make sure you buy. You will make a fortune for I alone can control the direction of the stock market. I buy, it goes down. I sale, it goes up.

September 08 2011 at 3:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Not this young person! Just recently launched AppTank @ and having a great time! Nothing but positive outlook for our financial future!

September 08 2011 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is no financial future for these people, unless somebody gives it to them.

September 08 2011 at 2:37 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to watchclock's comment

Being part of this group (I'm 24). I'd say that 'there is no financial future for these people, unless they work for it themselves'. I've worked hard and am doing quite well, by the way.

September 08 2011 at 4:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Could people please stop with this republican vs democrat arguments...its not the Yankees vs Red Sox type of discussions. Unlike our favorite teams, we have absolutely NO LOYALTY to any politician because as cynic as it may come across, the race is always won by the one who lies best. Can we just leave it at this, both parties only care about the almighty $$ and there's nothing more than "I's" in their spelling of TEAM. The reason we fight amongst ourselves about which party to blame is because that all we hear coming out of DC from the media. That and every politician they will do this or that for the country but never providing detailed plans for the people to every election cycle all we get are sound bites to appease the masses. When are we as a "United States" actually act as "One", doesn't the pledge of allegiance mention the word "indivisible"...than why are we so divided? Simply stated, we've become tv zombies blindly following any numb skull who offers nothing more that soothing words but no true solutions. Simply recaps all the problems and tells you who is to blame for why we are where we are right now....that's how you win elections. We no longer vote for the "best" but simply evaluate whether we keep the evil we know vs the one we do not. Essentially its a fear ballot...why wlse do you think we see all the Stephen King type commercials during elections that tell you why this opponent vs that will be a horror story to vote for. Think about the items that have passed so far that were supposed to help us "the little guy"....the new credit card laws: lowered limits, higher balance requirements, higher minimum balances and as a result of this your debt to credit ratio has suffered and taken your credit score for a nice nose dive. Next the TARP (the politically correct way of simply saying Big Bank Bail Out Plan) It was supposed to make lending easier, but it did nothing but make it rougher, got the "talented" numb skulls that got us into this situation bigger bonuses, and make the largest banks even larger and much more bigger to fail. Just think about it! Do you think it matters whether you voted for a donkey or an elephant in the last election? We might have just as well have voted for the Carpentry party because at least we know we'll get screwed up front without the sweeten promises of the campaign trail. We got beaten by both parties so I think we should demand that as our employees, that they should submit to our yearly reviews and if they don't measure up to their promises than we replace them with the runner-up and so forth until the next election. If the President can't run for more than two terms than why not demand the same of every office, the people deserve better alternatives under the party system--that is unless we abolish party politics and have everyone run as themselves unaffiliated with any party.

September 08 2011 at 1:39 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lakers1746's comment

Good points! I hope more people are realizing the same things....The current structure of this political party versus that political party is as out dated as "Leave To Beaver" is to current American life. As an example, why are governmental services only available M-F 8 to 5 when countless people work changing work schedules? Additionally, holidays should be universal with allowances for emergency medical/fire/police support.

As far as campaign promisses go, how about structuring them into enforceable legal contracts that are written as simply as you promised to do this/that and if not attained without reasonable justifications you will resign your elected position? I bet more working-class citizens would eventually run this county !

September 08 2011 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply