After recession, consumers smarter; children taking note

By Chris Clackum, NBC News | Posted - Apr 6th, 2013 @ 3:44pm

NEW YORK CITY — Call it a silver lining to the great recession: consumers are smarter, and their children are taking note.

A new survey by the Fidelity Investments found that today's consumer has emerged from the recession wiser and more financially fit.

"They're saving more, they're reducing debt, they've taken control of their own personal economy, and they are now saying, ‘I'm responsible," said Executive Vice-President John Sweeney of Fidelity Investments.

That's good news for tomorrow's consumer, according to online educator EverFi. They found in their recent study that children notice when there are money troubles at home.

"As we went out and surveyed teens, one of the things we found, (is that) 44 percent of our teens responded that financial stress at home impacted their ability to have success in the classroom," said Co-founder of EverFi, Ray Martinez.

Just under half of those in the Fidelity survey said they reduced their personal debt; 8 percent claim to now better understand their financial picture.

Both surveys conclude that the home is where children look to learn about financial matters, but there is some doubt among parents that their new-found wisdom will trickle down.

"You only have 26 percent of parents who say they feel like they're equipped to educate their children on these difficult topics," Martinez said.

Sweeney believes that one way or another, younger Americans are learning from the mistakes of older generations.

"The young generation, the 25-year-olds are looking at their parents and saying, 'I have to be more frugal, I can't count on somebody else to bail me out of a situation,' " Sweeney said.

These findings may give hope that the financial mistakes of the past won't be repeated in the future.

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