Kids Tout 'Super Hero' Savings : America's youth reports strong savings habits

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More kids living in the U.S. associate the state of their piggy banks with “super hero” strength and stability than with Halloween gloom and doom, according to a new poll conducted by the financial literacy Web site The finding provides parents and teachers with an optimistic glimpse into the future, even as difficult economic conditions continue to grip the nation.

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The power of saving for the future may not ever allow anyone to leap buildings in a single bound, but it can help people achieve feats far more important -- like attending college, buying a home, and retiring comfortably.

In the survey, visitors to the site were asked to choose which Halloween costume best describes the state of their piggy banks. A majority of the respondents 17 years or younger (56 percent) said they either had strong, unshakeable "super hero" savings, or savings that evoked a "train engineer" costume, showing their plans for savings are right on track. This is good news because only 26 percent of respondents described their savings as "bare bones" or downright laughable.

"It's encouraging that kids see the benefits of savings at a young age," said Meridee Maynard, senior vice president, Northwestern Mutual. "The power of saving for the future may not ever allow anyone to leap buildings in a single bound, but it can help people achieve feats far more important -- like attending college, buying a home, and retiring comfortably."

When asked what they would do if handed a sum of money, more kids preferred saving over spending. More than half of the kids aged 17 years or younger (54 percent) said they'd save all of their money and/or budget it carefully and slowly, compared to a small number (15 percent) who said they'd rather spend it as fast as possible.

From July through September 2008, visitors to the financial literacy Web site were invited to answer two questions related to individual savings habits. A combined total of more than 1,600 respondents from across the country weighed in about what they would do if handed a sum of money, as well as the state of their current savings. The results were then analyzed based on several demographic factors, including the age, gender and location of respondents.

Males Report Least Desire to Save, Strongest Savings

While kids as a whole seem to understand the importance of saving and budgeting in a healthy financial plan, the poll revealed some surprising findings when the demographic is broken down by gender and geographic regions.

According to the survey, young male respondents are more confident with their savings, but less concerned with budgeting than their female counterparts. While less than half (47 percent) of the males aged 17 or younger said they would save their money or budget it carefully, an overwhelming majority (87 percent) saw their savings as strong or on track. Conversely, more females (59 percent) said they would be vigilant with the money, but a significantly smaller number (50 percent) are confident that their savings are on course.

Westerners Exhibit Good Intentions but Lack Confidence In Their Savings

Interestingly, where kids live appears to affect their attitude toward saving and financial confidence. Two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents in the West said they would look after their money conservatively, but less than half (48 percent) are satisfied with the strength of their actual savings.

The rest of the country was far more consistent. Over half of the kids in the Midwest and Northeast said they would be diligent with the money and are confident in their savings, while slightly less than half of Southerners said they were content with the state of their piggy bank.

This study is part of an ongoing series conducted on Polls released in April and July 2008 focused on allowances and summer employment, respectively.


Launched in 1997, is a collaboration between the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, the charitable arm of Northwestern Mutual, and the National Council on Economic Education (NCEE). The site provides fun activities, games, challenges, quizzes and tests for students and teens, helpful tips for parents, and entertaining programs and lesson plans for teachers to promote financial literacy.

This poll marks the third of a series of polls by, with the aim of bringing continued awareness to financial literacy issues. Poll results are archived on the site and can be viewed at

About Northwestern Mutual

The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (Northwestern Mutual) has been helping policyowners and clients achieve financial security for more than 150 years. The company is an industry leader, with over $1 trillion of life insurance protection in force, and maintains the highest available ratings for insurance financial strength from all four major rating agencies: Standard & Poor's, Fitch Ratings, A. M. Best and Moody's.

For 25 years, a FORTUNE magazine survey has named Northwestern Mutual "America's Most Admired" company in the life/health insurance industry. Further information on Northwestern Mutual, its subsidiaries and affiliates can be found at:

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