Kids Choose Summer Pay Days Over Play Days : Summertime encourages fiscal responsibility among young Americans

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According to a new poll conducted by, nine out of ten young Americans would prefer big summer pay days than fun summer play days, a finding that challenges the common perception that summer is the time when kids leave their homework and cares behind in pursuit of fun or just some lazy days.

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The summer months provide a unique opportunity to build up a savings account and set the foundation for a healthy financial future

Poll results indicate that given the option, most respondents 17 years or younger (91 percent) would like to spend their summer earning paychecks, whether employed in service-oriented or recreational fields or through self-employment, with only nine percent saying they would prefer not to work.

The good news is that 88 percent of all survey participants said that they or their children plan to save at least a portion of their summer earnings, and nearly a quarter will save 50 percent or more. These results are encouraging at a time when many people spend more than they earn -- the personal savings rate, which frequently climbed above 10 percent in the 1970s, now hovers around zero.1

"The summer months provide a unique opportunity to build up a savings account and set the foundation for a healthy financial future," said Meridee Maynard, senior vice president, Northwestern Mutual. "Young people in particular are showing a willingness to work and a diligence in saving that is encouraging, particularly amidst all the current turmoil in the U.S. economy."

From April through June 2008, visitors to the financial literacy Web site were invited to answer two questions related to summer employment. Over 1,500 people from across the country weighed in about what type of employment they or their children were most likely to engage in and the percentage of their earnings likely to be saved. The results were then analyzed based on several demographic factors, including the age, gender and location of respondents.

Entrepreneurial Spirit Fades with Age

Poll results suggest that the work ethic of children and young adults is matched by a strong desire to be their own boss, particularly for those aged 17 or younger (32 percent). However, the number of aspiring entrepreneurs falls significantly in the 18-29 demographic to 20 percent, reflecting decreasing interest in self-employment at the conclusion of high school education.

Midwesterners Seek to Save; More Southerners Seek to Spend

According to the survey, Midwesterners are the biggest savers. A super majority of Midwesterners (91 percent) said that they would save at least a portion of their savings, followed closely by respondents from the West (90 percent).

People living in the South are more interested in spending their hard-earned cash compared to others across the country, with over 20 percent of Southerners indicating that they do not plan on saving any of the money earned over the summer. Those in the Northeast (16 percent) are not far behind.

This study is part of an ongoing series conducted on financial literacy Web site, the first of which focused on allowances and was released in April 2008.


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 tools to help parents as well as educators teach children to manage money wisely and develop good financial habits: the building blocks for a secure future.

This poll marks the second 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:

1 U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2008.


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Jean Towell
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