High school grads have rosy outlook on financial future: survey

The future's looking bright if you ask Canadian high school graduates.

According to a new survey of 17- to 20-year-olds, many expect to own a home and be raking in more than $90,000 a year within 10 years.

The British Columbia Securities Commission released its National Report Card on Youth Financial Literacy on Monday.

The study revealed the median respondent's salary expectation is $70,000 in 10 years' time while the average respondent expects to earn $90,735 by that time.

That's three times the average income of $31,648 earned by 25 to 29-year-olds with post-secondary degrees according to the 2006 census.

Young people are also optimistic on owning a home, with 73% of respondents saying they expect to be a homeowner within 10 years.

Estimates from Statistics Canada suggest only 42% of 25 to 29-year-olds own homes.

The survey was conducted in September through 3,006 online interviews with 17- to 20-year-olds from across the country. It has an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

The study also highlighted a gap between attitudes toward financial literacy and actual behaviors.

For instance, 93% agreed it is important to learn about finances at an early age and the same number said it is important to build up personal savings.

But less than half kept a budget and just 12% have written financial plans.

As for debt and savings, the study found 51% of respondents carried debt and for 69% of those respondents that entailed a student loan.

The average debt load reported was $8,000.

Forty-eight per cent were setting aside money from employment to repay debt while 25% were doing nothing.

Close to 80% of those surveyed said they are saving for their education and 60% said they had already set aside money for the future.

The study also looked at the effect of financial literacy courses on high school graduates

It found those who had taken very comprehensive courses and had good experiences in those courses, performed better on attitudes, behaviour and knowledge around financial literacy.

Simply taking a course that was not comprehensive appeared to have the same effect as not taking a course at all, the study found.

“This is the first comprehensive Canadian benchmark study on youth financial life skills,” said Brenda Leong, chair of the BCSC. “We believe that the information and analysis in this study will help educators and policy makers develop and deliver financial literacy programs for Canadian youth.”

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